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

Dru dlavigne6
Tue Aug 3 10:14:37 EDT 2004

On Mon, 2 Aug 2004, Pete Wright wrote:

> so dru, do you think from your experience that most FLOSS projects are just 
> boy's clubs...or what?

Definitely not a boys club, not from my perspective. I've had 4 careers so 
far, 3 of which are obviously male-dominated. I've been a mover, a worker 
at a scrapyard, a municipal government employee, and an IT techie. I 
quickly found out from my moving and scrapyard stints that while guys will 
initially groan when they see a female on site, you earn great respect 
once you show that you're there to work and that you do your job well. 
They keep each other in-line, watch out for you, and woe to the fellow who 
hints anything inappropriate.

I discovered boys club when I became a govt employee. While 85% of the 
workforce was female, they were the grunts. All the good paying, good 
respect positions were held by males who did all the stuff that gives 
govt. a bad name: extended lunches, golf games, secret back scratchings 
behind closed doors. Being a smart cookie, I quickly worked my way through 
all the female positions and asked how I could improve my position further 
(the pay was beyond terrible). I was told to get a certain degree for a 
certain pay hike and promptly started night classes. Half way through my 
degree (when they realized I was serious) my manager had a meeting with me to 
explain how I was to be commended for my efforts but in this day of 
"budgetary cutbacks" and "fiscal restrictions" it wasn't likely I would be 
seeing a pay increase anytime soon. I quit on the spot. (happened to be 
the 4th of July which appealed to the American half of me...)

When I entered IT, it was at the tail-end of the boom, when govt. was 
still paying people for retraining. Half of my class of 12 was female and 
4 of the top 5 in the class were female (girls tend to be more studious). 
By the time I was teaching at the school, we always had at least one 
female per group of 12, but more often 2 -5 per group. How many (male or 
female) actually found and kept IT jobs once the boom busted? I don't 

My introduction to open source was through the FreeBSD questions list. 
While I quickly learned to RTFM, besides that I found it to be a friendly 
enough place with lots to offer learning-wise. The only weird thing that 
happened on the list was some time in 98 or so some guy (who's name I've 
long forgotten) had a little schizo-fit. (Anyone remember that one?) Was 
told to clean up his posts or be banned but he quit the list himself with 
quite a flaming swan-song.

Anyways, I'm rambling and need more coffee.


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