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

G.Rosamond george
Wed Aug 4 11:07:23 EDT 2004

Woohoo. . .'talk' is alive!

On Aug 4, 2004, at 10:52 AM, Trish Lynch wrote:

> On Mon, 2 Aug 2004, Dru wrote:
>>>> 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...
> Bullshit, the Slashdot team in general were very welcoming to the 
> women on
> our team, we had 3 women on the network team, including one that was 
> going
> from male to female (myself). Never once did I feel like women were cut
> short... there just weren't many of them.

I don't think any reference was made to the staff at Slashdot. . .it 
was a reference to the posters and those who self-identify as the 
Slashdot community at-large.

> Now the readers on the other hand.... but almost none of those readers 
> are
> the actual "Open Source Community" (and I say it like that, because its
> equal to the "Gay Community", "Lesbian Community", and "Queer 
> Community",
> its a large group of people with a common bond or interest, interested 
> in
> accomplishing some goal...), they were ..... admirers of a sort, 
> wannabes,
> little haxx0r punks, who knew very little... many of them grew up, but
> they didn't lose the immature streak.

Of course. . .no argument here. . .a differentiation does need to be 
made between the Slashdot operators (none of whom I know personally, 
although I am fond of the appreciation for the Who) and the generally 
non-technical wage-earners who dominate the posts. . .

> I don't have high hopes for the "Slashdot Weenies"

Phew. . .

> Now to answer about the BSD community, which I've been around for a 
> time, it seems to be more accepting to freaks, geeks, queer and gender
> bending people, I suspect this is because of Kirk and Eric, but there 
> are
> plenty other gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered people in the BSD
> community. I'd like to think, as long as you meet the technical 
> standard
> and/or are willing to learn to step up to that, whether it be in code,
> documentation, or advocacy, since all three are important to the life 
> and
> growth of a project.... it doesn't matter if you're XX, XY, ZYX, VDXY, 
> or
> come from Mars. I've generally felt that overall, getting past the 
> initial
> "oooooh, its a girl!" thing, that it didn't matter who you were, as 
> long
> as your work was good. There are many women in BSD history... Margo
> Seltzer (Berkeley DB) being one giant.

No technical community is perfect, but there is definitely many degrees 
of difference between the BSD world and the others. . .

The reality is that women are very much sidelined in the larger 
technical world, and this is reflected in the low numbers of women at 
BSD events in general, including NYCBUG.  This goes back, I would 
argue, to a number of factors including the deemphasis on math and 
science for young women moving through the education system.

> I feel that, from where I come from, Open Source, Leather, and Queer
> Communities, that the study of sociology within subcultures is really
> interesting to say the least, but I'd say this research did not have
> enough of a sample to be conclusive.

Interesting, yes.  Unfortunately, technical communities see themselves 
as outside or above society, so it's a bit difficult. . .


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