[nycbug-talk] Re: Women in Open Source (fwd)

G.Rosamond george
Mon Aug 2 21:24:55 EDT 2004

On Aug 2, 2004, at 8:30 PM, Dru wrote:

> A few months ago, I was asked to partake in an email survey, the 
> results of which are to be officially published tomorrow (and later in 
> a print magazine) at:
> http://pyre.third-bit.com/wios/

Surprising that it's taken this long to actually get some of this 
documented. . .It's a reality that few comment on. . .

> My final feedback to the surveyor (and their response) follows. 
> Personally, I
> find the results alarming and am interested in hearing the perspective 
> from
> the group.

Agree. . .

The larger issue of the lack of women and non-whites in technology is 
the context, but there are definitely problems at the more local level. 
  .and that should be apparent to everyone. . .

Lots of techs think that contemporary computing somehow sits above the 
history of work. . .which maybe explains the popularity of sci fi and 
films like the Matrix. . .

Techs are predominantly men not because men are innately technically 
more skilled.

It was unheard of to have a female secretary until the 20th century.  
Men were not wanted in the textile mills of New England in the early 
19th century.  Gender and work is not some linear process from the 
hunters and gatherers to today.  And even that world has been massively 

I'm sure some people do think that women are not naturally as 
technical. . .it's not surprising in some way, since, as the article 
notes, the major developers in the FLOSS world are men. . . everyone in 
their 30's and up today comes from a world where technology was a 
limited field, and the directions pushed of men to math and science was 
accepted as normal.

There are a handful of women on the list. . .and partially, as I stated 
above, it's because of a world bigger than NYCBUG.  However, I do think 
it's reasonable for the NYCBUG members to discuss our own little world.

> While it won't come out in the article, it did bring up another slant 
> that should be pursued (though I don't know how yet...) The uninformed 
> perception
> re: open source and geekdom seems to be unfairly tainted by slashdot 
> moronics
> and programmer tantrums. I've found the perception of BSD to be far 
> more
> mature. Sounds like some sort of opportunity here.
> Comments?
> Dru

Definitely an issue. . .Slashdot crowd is younger, less socially 
adjusted, and rarely have earned a nickel due to their technical skills 
in a normal workplace. . .

>>> It's sad that these were your findings. I guess BSD users live in a 
>>> more
>>> sheltered part of geek-space. While I've had to wear my flame-suit a 
>>> few
>>> times over technical disagreements, I've never experienced anything
>>> close to sexual harrassment. My name maybe gender neutral, but the
>>> community certainly knows that I'm female.
>> I'm just speculating here, but I wonder if there are any connections
>> between the BSD community's friendliness, the fact that it didn't
>> bandwagon nearly as dramatically as some other projects, and Apple's
>> adoption of it.  Apple certainly has a long history of caring more 
>> about
>> "soft" issues than most other computer companies; it's hard to imagine
>> that culture co-operating with the slash 'n' burn of Slashdot...

And Apple may be more careful about it, but that's because the bulk of 
their clients are middle class professional men and women. . .Doesn't 
stop Jobs from making sexist comments, nor Waz when he spoke at 
HOPE/2600. . .

>>> Small technical inaccuracy: "Mac OS X....on Linux" is like saying Al
>>> Gore invented the Internet. It is BSD-based--at the very least, 
>>> "Unix"
>>> would be more accurate than "Linux".
>> Yup, our bad --- thanks for pointing it out.

That's something worth getting into a fistfight about Dru. . .



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