[opensource] Women in Software: Open Source, Cold Shoulder

Nandan bagchee at cse.ohio-state.edu
Tue Jan 18 03:18:37 EST 2005

What a crock!

This intensely personal rant is supposed to be publishable material? For sh=
This kind of hatchet-job doesn't dignify a response, but then one is accuse=
d of
not being able to counter the arguments (as if) put forth. So:

>Our aim is not to complain yet again about gender imbalance in computing.
>Instead, we believe that the gender skew in FLOSS is the most

It's quite obvious that's what they're doing, regardless of disclaimer.

>The effects of the experience gap are more pronounced in FLOSS because mos=
>FLOSS projects have very steep learning curves. FLOSS software is notoriou=
>for missing or out-of-date documentation, and for

If you can't hack it, don't whine. Who needs documentation when you have th=
source ;-) As an aside, many of the early bug-finders on the linux kernel w=
people who didn't know how to program. That didn't stop 'em (source Rebel C=
by Glyn Moody iirc).

If you're interested enough, you'll learn. If you're taught some of the rig=
things, you'll figure out the rest as you go along.

If you're taught how to draw pictures in photoshop and it's called computer
science in the special class for women at the high school you came from, fa=

>Margolis and Fisher also found that the average female computer science
>student had a broader range of interests than her male counterpart. As a

Ooh I have so many important things to do, and I have a life, unlike you lo=
who spend your day staring at code, but I want to join the club all the sam=
Why would anyone want to join a mountaineering club if they didn't have the
dedication required to climb mountains?

>Since FLOSS volunteers work on these projects on their own time, women=92s
>preference for well-rounded lives makes them less likely to become involve=

But now that Red Hat is hiring you'd like to get in on the action, eh?

ahem. well-rounded lives? nice snipe!

>occupied too much memory space.=94 Twenty years later, FLOSS has become a =
>for the antisocial singular-interest geek: a club where they are safe from=
>jeers of high school jocks and the pity of college peers who actually have
>something to do on Friday nights. Challenges to this culture are often tak=
>very personally; anyone who points out that it=92s an unwelcoming environm=
>for most people (male as well as female) is

and this is not a personal sneer (Friday nights?).

>flamed or simply dismissed. This makes anyone who doesn=92t fit the geek
>profile feel unwelcome.

If you don't fit the geek profile, why are you bullying your way into a gee=
club? It makes no sense.

>LinuxChix is just one example of a community formed by and for women to
>provide a supportive and friendly environment where they can discuss FLOSS
>without feeling like intruders.

Heck, I've referred often enough to LinuxChix for info. You don't think OSS=
fora are supportive and friendly? Roll your own. That's the OSS way, not
writing letters to the editor demanding a 'friendly environment'!

>into the geek community. We certainly aren=92t welcome at Slashdot.=94

A common outsider misconception: community=3D/. and linux=3Dredhat. Poser.

>at a FLOSS meeting or in a FLOSS newsgroup. Since most FLOSS projects aren=
>affiliated with a company, university or other accountable body, civilized
>behavior isn=92t enforced.

Thank God! Finally a place where a stupid question can be called a stupid
question without gender lawsuits because you hurt someone's feelings.

>the OSCON speaker who decorated his slides with illustrations of men and w=
>from the Kama Sutra would have been comfortable if another speaker had use=
>similar images of gay men.

This makes no sense. You're assuming the speaker wasn't homosexual, or even
bisexual. It only makes sense (partial) if the speaker had used images of
lesbian women. For the record, the KS has more varied sexuality than you co=
shake a stick at. No information on the type of illustrations of men and wo=
(may well have been male-male female-female segregated intercourse).

>It doesn=92t take much for these factors to seriously harm the gender bala=
>in FLOSS communities. Even a slight increase in hostility can have a
>significant impact on the skew.

Ooh, it's already so skewed, but you could do even more harm. Beware! Acced=
e to
our demands! Don't be so hostile to us, you shiftless friday night losers!

>=93This is just the nature of bell curves in a large population,=94 says p=
>blogger and author Joel Spolsky of Fog Creek Software in New York. =93Take=
>overlapping bell curves plotting interest in computer

Despite this very tantalising explanation by Spolsky the authors disregard =
further examination, and instead try to make it supportive of their rant by
omission?  Sneaky.

>We believe that FLOSS=92s hard-core geek culture is the cause of most of
>FLOSS=92s other problems. This mostly-male club is doing FLOSS considerabl=
>damage and limiting its potential growth.

The only way they've defined the 'damage' is to say it is hurting diversity=

>with a corresponding scorn for =93human=94 issues, such as usability and u=
>interface design. When people (male and female) who care about usability
>attempt to contribute to FLOSS projects, they=92re often

Eugenia Loli-Queru. Havoc Pennington. 'Nuff said. Do your homework.

Gnome developers, and their huge about-face on the UI front.

Kate Rhodes of caterpillar.masukomi.org -- beautiful software, works hard o=
UI, helps develop Java Swing UILs.

>positions on technical and legal matters. Consequently, decision makers of=
>discount what those advocates have to say simply because they can=92t take=

As a matter of fact, as the authors (sic) themselves point out, decision ma=
take open source very seriously.

>The greatest harm done by FLOSS=92s cold shoulder is that it chases people
>away. This is the real cost of any discrimination, including the passive
>discrimination created by unwelcoming environments. When users (and

This smacks of circularity. Their argument (in part) is that unfriendliness
(presumed) harms open source. And now they neatly prove it by saying 'The
greatest harm..'

>elsewhere. What remains is a community that suffers from a lack of diversi=
>and new ideas. Only those who match the definition of a

Ipso facto, diversity is good? So let's welcome the morons when we're desig=
the kernel.  And hey, let's mandate that half the devs be women. And let's
select them by lottery, you know, like for fairness, so that insiders like
Telsa Gwynne don't get undue advantage.  Yay! A happier friendlier world,

>than just =93toys for boys,=94 it must accept the fact that others=97who h=

Intensely personal.

>wider interests and priorities=97will shape the future of computing.

Ha ha. That's funny. And who might that be? You?

< ** begin rant>

>Michelle Levesque (ml at cs.toronto.edu) is an active participant in the
>free/libre/open source community and an undergraduate student in the
>Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Greg Wilson

This actually explains a lot for the POS article. I suppose having done wit=
analyzing the food safety bloopers in television cooking programmes, the ne=
field of study in Canadian colleges to benefit from their assiduous zeal wo=
have been computer science.

Also it explains the silliest acronym I've heard in a long time, "floss".  =
only amazed they didn't mention 'phallic symbol' anywhere in their drivel.

If active participant means blathering on on random fora on how she's being
left out, I can imagine Ms. Levesque is one. But one might have expected to
hear what project she's with, what code she's written, what OS she runs?

Ten to one it's a mac, with fink's version of Python (since she heard it's =
women-friendly language ;-) and she had trouble installing that, and asked =
debian-devel by mistake, and got flamed, and got her (oops non PC phrase en=
in '..in a bunch' deleted).

>is a C++/Java programmer in the Select Access

That explains the rest.

< ** end rant>

PS follow-up to cis.opinion please, where OP should prolly have gone.
I don't know if Pine allows me to set the header.

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