Women in Floss


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Free software is about freedom, but is that really a reality for everyone out
there? Is it true, what a lot of people claim, that since free software by its
nature is free, it therefore does not suffer from inequality? Everyone with the
economical and practical resources has the possibility to contribute to any free
software project, anyone can join. Unfortunately, reality does not look like
this, we have a problem with inequality. If we exclude women from the free
software community, we exclude contributors, both women and men. Is software
really free if not everybody is free to join?

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Women in Floss

  1. 1. 1 ”If you want to help, you can start by getting some coffee” Christina Gratorp <christina@gratorp.se> Nov 6, 2010
  2. 2. 2 <3 FLOSS Me • Woman • Transmode, Embedded software design Involvement • Use, promote and teach FLOSS as much as I can • Conferences • Talks (like this one) Computer world • Got my first own computer 1994 (age 13) • Was introduced to FLOSS 2008 (age 27)
  3. 3. 3 wtf?! or: how to alienate women ”They [computers] are designed by men, they are a product of mens’ fantasy, and therefore we [women] are not interested in them and we can not understand them.” Rigmor Rob`ert (Amelia nr 1/95)
  4. 4. 4 • Ada Lovelace - The first programmer. • Grace Hopper - Hopper wrote the first compiler, mother of COBOL • Mary Allen Wilkes - Computer programmer; First person to use a computer in a private home and the first developer of an operating system (LAP) for the first minicomputer (LINC) • Adele Goldberg - Goldberg is one of the designers and developers of Smalltalk
  5. 5. 5 Why is this important? Driving away women means driving away contributors. Both women and men. (That is not good if you want free software to dominate the world...)
  6. 6. 6 The hacker blindness Hackers often describe their culture as gender and colour blind.
  7. 7. 7 Let’s look at some numbers
  8. 8. 8 Women in proprietary software (28%)
  9. 9. 9 Women in FLOSS (1.5%)
  10. 10. 10 Why are there so few women in FLOSS? • Social reasons - Women are discouraged from technology... ... in childhood ... in media ... in social expectations
  11. 11. 11 Why are there so few women in FLOSS? - Lack of confidence due to... ... social pressure ... lack of female technical role models
  12. 12. 12 Why are there so few women in FLOSS? When girls and boys have access to computers male female Age of computer introduction (use) 12 14.5 Age of getting your own computer 15 19
  13. 13. 13 But... these reasons apply to all women getting into IT, not FLOSS in particular... What is so special about FLOSS?
  14. 14. 14 Anonymity Hiding behind a computer makes people dare to speak of things they never would AFK.
  15. 15. 15 Competitive nature of floss Flame wars are accepted within many FLOSS projects as a key means of developing reputation
  16. 16. 16 The Einstein complex There is a common believe that you have to be smarter than Einstein to contribute to FLOSS.
  17. 17. 17 OMG! A GRRL!
  18. 18. 18 Have you ever noticed sexism within the FLOSS community?
  19. 19. 19 Bad ideas • ”Jokes” - If you can tell the joke in a room full of women, including your mother, it is probably an ok joke. If you wouldn’t, don’t. • Dates/Marriage proposals • Doubting women’s intelligence/expertise • Insults specific to females (that time of month etc...)
  20. 20. 20 Horror Stories
  21. 21. 21 A bad example Dear Starla, At Bugtraq Security Systems we pride ourselfs in having a keen eye for young and upcoming talent. Specifically, core members of our Research and Development team have expressed continously growing feelings of affection towards your person. Or, as one of our researchers put it: ”hehehe I’d like to research and develop that all night long :D:D:D”. What it boils down to is that we at BSS (Bugtraq Security Systems) would like to offer you.. Starla Pureheart.. prolific warrior princess of the great Nuke Wars of 1997... a position at Bugtraq Security Systems. Preferably on your knees. Love, Bugtraq Security Systems PS: All kidding aside, get in touch with us Anna - we need a token femme
  22. 22. 22 An awful example
  23. 23. 23 Death threats • Nut launches death threats at Debian women • The attack on Kathy Sierra
  24. 24. 24 mini HOWTO
  25. 25. 25 Invite them! To change how many women are involved in FLOSS, we need to take action. Nothing will change unless we change something...
  26. 26. 26 Be sensitive to discrimination Take action when something happens. Silence means you agree with what is being said/done/written...
  27. 27. 27 Value all contributions • Documentation • Testing • Bug reports • Using FLOSS • Administation • etc... • (and code)
  28. 28. 28 Assume girls know stuff
  29. 29. 29 Be friendly Take a little extra time to direct people when they ask something, compared to RTFM.
  30. 30. 30 Make the first steps easier - Better documentation - Mentorship program - Tag stuff in TODO list with beginner friendly
  31. 31. 31 A good example Figure: GnomeLove - an initiative that aims to help people who want to get started contributing to GNOME
  32. 32. 32 Another good example ”Catie, please contribute more often. I enjoy your comments and posts they are often plently more insightful than some of the half-arsed posts from people who haven’t yet learnt when to keep their mouths shut. In particular, although I may not agree with your point of view, I enjoyed reading the recent thread with jdub about GPL vs freedom... :) Thanks for being a valued contributor to the list. Dave” SLUG mailing list, Sydney.
  33. 33. 33 What can women do?
  34. 34. 34 Dealing with the Einstein complex Remember... everyone was a n00b at some point.
  35. 35. 35 Dealing with BS Figure: Grynet: -Ta ingen skit!
  36. 36. 36 There are other women out there, look them up!
  37. 37. 37 Be proud! FLOSS women rock!
  38. 38. 38 (Want the slides? Just let me know.)
  39. 39. 39 References and Further Reading • http://www.flosspols.org • http://geekfeminism.wikia.com • http://linuxchix.org • http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/ • http://women.debian.org • http://lists.slug.org.au/archives/slug-chat/2001/October/msg00321.html • http://live.gnome.org/GnomeLove • http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/03/debian death threats/ • http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/techchron/detail?blogid=19&entry id=14783 • http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/CouchDB talk