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Women’s collective action in the 
        free software world

                     Yuwei Lin
                          ●



      ESRC National Centre for e­Social Science
    ●



              University of Manchester
            ●




 
               P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Voluntary work = Unpaid labour?




 
         P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Motivations of Participating
     Just for fun
●




     Gratification
●




     Reputation
●




     Mutuality
●




     For work (protestant work ethics)
●




     Self help: To fix a problem at hand
●




     God told me so 
●




 
                       P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
What is visible?



                men
               coding
              hacking
           taking control



 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Invisible Values of Free Software
                    Freedom
             ●




               Openness
             ●




           Networking
         ●




        Collaboration
     ●




                                                                   6
 
                      P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Invisible Values of Free Software
                    Freedom                                Diversity
             ●                                        ●




               Openness                                    Democracy
             ●                                        ●




           Networking                                      Equity
         ●                                            ●




        Collaboration                                      Mutuality
     ●                                                ●




                                                                       7
 
                      P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Problems
     overemphasis on coding and hacking
●




     visibility of women in free software
●




     current societal inequality and knowledge gap
●




                                                                8
 
                   P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Barriers of Including Women
     Cyberbulling & trolling, sexist & discriminative languages
●




     Unfriendly and inhumane online environment (e.g. RTFM)
●




  gendered role in FLOSS development ­ inequality of different 
●



types of knowledge & women's reduced role

     Housework (child­rearing) – lack of time
●




     Lack of role models, mentors and support
●




     Education
●




     A male­dominated competitive worldview (reputation, flaming)
●




   Any other reasons that differ from culture to culture, nation to 
●



nation, region to region?
 
                        P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Women's Voices and Networks




 
          P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Contexualisation
               Embodiment

    Beyond numbers and the binary gender codes 
             and biological differences




 
              P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Methods & Data Sources
     virtual ethnography (reflexive & participatory) + 
●



     content analysis (webpages, mailing list) & informal 
     conversations
     Text Mining + Corpus Analysis of messages on the 
●


     mailing lists 
     Debian­Women (mixed sex) & GenderChanger (single 
●



     sex) 
     who (memberships), said what (topics), done what 
●



     (actions)  
                                                                   12
     limits: neither real life nor real time
 ●
                      P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
IMC­Women




                                                             13
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
GenderChanger Academy




                                                                  14
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Belonging to a group




                                                             15
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Helping




                                                    16
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Participating




                                                            17
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Bodies and Technologies
        ICTs used: mailing lists, irc, cvs, wiki, webpages
    ●




        common participants: names
    ●




        issues: events, problems, sharing information 
    ●



        (forwarding messages)
        (technological­oriented) experiences embedded 
    ●



        in the conversation about fixing problems or bugs
        emotions
    ●


                                                                  18
 
                     P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Debian­Women
             training and providing support 
         ●



             for women interested in 
             Debian and FLOSS sector
             organising online tutorials, 
         ●



             bug­squashing parties, 
             mentoring
             6 female Debian Developers
         ●




             http://women.debian.org/
         ●

                                                 19
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
 
    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
<http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~hmw26/join­the­dots/2005/03/30/friendlier­debian/>

I’m one of these males on #debian­woman and mailling list. I found your “debian­friendly” 
project idea extremely interesting. I’d like a more collaborative and less competitive Debian 
world and I think that’s exactly why DW has been so successful.
—Carlos (comment)
March 31, 2005 @ 8:51 am



I’m not a developer and have never been on debian­women or any other developer 
site/group/list but I use debian­user a lot and do think there’s something gettting very 
struck about the culture: a focus on programming and fixing compatibility problems but in a 
rather macho way. The result is that we don’t have a good hardware compatibility list for 
Debian, we don’t have good documentation, we don’t have good ways the expertise on, 
say, the user list, creates FAQs etc. I’m not sure what the answer is but I think it is linked 
with a stereotypically Western male gendered component to the problem. If there’s a way I 
can help I’ll try but time is very limited sadly.

Chris (male, end user of Debian for years now)
—Chris (comment)
 
April 10, 2005 @ 3:30 pm P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
<http://www.srcf.ucam.org/~hmw26/join­the­dots/2005/03/30/friendlier­debian/>
(continued)

The DW project got my attention because it promoted a “positive, welcoming and friendly 
atmosphere” still I did not try to participate because I’m, well… male.

I would very much like to see a “positive, welcoming and friendly atmosphere” Debian project 
for all people.

I will be using Ubuntu for the time being as it has this “much love” way about it. :)
(And it “just works” most of the time)
—Tim (comment)
April 06, 2005 @ 4:07 pm




thanks for your article!! Sometimes I get worry about the idea of the “invasion” by men in 
women­groups… but is interesting to see this places like “friendly places” where everybody 
can have access to (without gender specific).
—gaba (comment)
   
April 09, 2005 @ 2:19 am      P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Where the joy lies?




          SELF­REFLECTION
         ●



      (Emotion + Body + Technology)
    ●




 
             P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
But we have achieved *a lot*. I don't feel anymore it is a
taboo to talk about females within Debian (be it Developers,
Translators, Users or whatever form of involvement), and
are no longer stuck with XXL night-gown sized tshirts in
Debconf (LOL). To me it has made a great difference and my
involvement in the project feels more quot;normalizedquot; to me.

Also, in RL meetings, the default assumption that the
attending females were $girlfriends of some male quot;actuallyquot;
interested in the meeting has decreassed significantly.

I don't know whether it is related, but since Debian Women
exists the feeling of a quot;socialquot; community on top of the
quot;technicalquot; community has been much reinforced. This
might be my subjective perception of quot;belongingquot; to this
community, improved by the existance of other females in
it, and other members of the project being welcoming and
inclusive about us.
 
(DWZL220106)     P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
%             M        W         U
2005­06       61,88    36,78     1,34                       Statistics about the IRC channel
2005­07       56,01    40,72     3,27
2005­08       60,02    37,49     2,49
2005­09       52,66    42,66     4,68
2005­10       50,3     42,37     7,33
2005­11       58,05    36,57     5,38
2005­12       65,14    30,58     4,28
2006­01       59,69    37,89     2,42
2006­02       70,8     26,96     2,24
2006­03       70,72    28,4      0,88
2006­04       73,54    25,58     0,88

As one can see, even if I can't quot;identifyquot; one third of the people, I have identified the most 
contributing people.

I see an interesting tendency for men participation to increase while women participation 
decreases. I already have this feeling for quite a long time but it seems that numbers are 
proving me correct. Is it good or bad: I leave this up to you, people...:)


(CPDW250406)
   
                               P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
I'm not sure if it's inherent aggression in male communication style as much as it's 
simply how communication on a quot;real­timequot; text­based medium goes. A situation 
where are several people in one quot;areaquot; holding several different conversations is 
much different than say Jabber or AIM where you are speaking directly to one 
person, and you wait for their response before you type again. Sometimes 
comments get lost in the shuffle because people are trying to follow multiple 
conversations, other times that conversation thread simply dies out. I don't attribute 
this to inherent aggression of males, but rather the way conversations flow on IRC.

I tried to introduce family members to IRC­like gathering areas, thinking it would be 
worthwhile to actually be able to hold conversations with more than one person at a 
time. It very much didn't work. They felt the same way ­ that people were quot;talking 
overquot; them, ignoring them ­ that they couldn't keep up with everything going on 
because one group of people was talking about one thing, another about a 
completely different topic and yet another group of people poking fun at each other. 
They gave up because they just couldn't catch up and keep up with the conversation 
flows.
                       Practice + Experience + Body + Technology
   
(PLDW260406)               P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
GenderChangers Academy
        since Nov. 1999
    ●




        ladies only (on the etc­int list)
    ●




        /etc ­ eclectic tech carnival
    ●




        DIY or DIO (hands­on training)
    ●




        exchanging computer related skills
    ●




        grass root and local
    ●




        The /etc is named for the /etc directory in which 
    ●



        Linux stores system configuration files.                27
 
                     P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
The Eclectic Tech Carnival




 
         P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Subject: [etc­int] edit drupal


hi

I am trying to edit a post on the page http://eclectictechcarnival.org/drupal/ but cant seem 
to find where I can log in to edit it..? does someone knows how can I do that?

many thankx
t 




the site in http://drupal.eclectictechcarnival.org is working as that one was working before... 
in the same version. We are gonna do something with drupal soon...

g

 
                            P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
thank you so much gaba! I was completely lost.. hehe..

xt 




hey gaba,

if you need any help while working with drupal let me know.

dri




 
                           P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
How Girls Make Knowledge
        coding knowledge is still considered as more 
    ●



        advanced (reproduction of hegemonic hacker 
        culture)
        layered & networked & embodied epistemic culture
    ●




        sense & sensibility
    ●




        hybrid: femininity (complex, layered, strategic, 
    ●



        adaptive)  + masculinity (disconnected, 
        emotionally avoidant, simplistic, one­dimensional)
 
                    P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Achievements
        visibility & awareness raising
    ●




        identity building (exploring & experimenting)
    ●




        knowledge sharing, mutual learning and 
    ●



        support (“a low­RTFM environment)
        creating a more intimate collaborative space
    ●




        beyond the simplistic and superficial categories 
    ●



        of different talks, it's women's play embodied in 
        these online narratives; a women's version of 
        'just for fun' P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
                                                                  32
 
Women's Play on GNU/Linux
        strengthens the importance of sharing everyday 
    ●



        experiences and problem­solving tips, of 
        socialising and social capitals in FLOSS dev.
        creating a more harmonised & reflexive space
    ●




        In Janice Raymond's words: 'The empowering 
    ●



        of female friendship can create the conditions 
        for a new feminist politics in which the personal 
        is most passionately political'. 
        resistance & change
    ●                                                             33
 
                     P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham
Whose Wonder Woman?
    Whose Female Hacker?
       Global or Local?




                                                     34
 
        P2P Workshop, 15 November 2007, Nottingham

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