FSF->beards(); FSF->female_participants();

Christian Selig christian at newopenness.de
Tue May 15 20:40:16 UTC 2001

Hi Xavier,

Xavier Drudis Ferran wrote:
> Please correct me if my logic is wrong or sexist, but considering the fact
> that approximately half of the
> population is women and half is men, the fact that there are less
> women than men programming free software (and nobody seems to deny that)
> may or may not have a reason (I tend to think there must be a reason).
> If there is a reason (if there is something
> in society or whatever) and we can fix it somehow, then we may have
> more people writing free software.

There are a number of reasons. It's a complex topic, so I don't
elaborate on all the details. There are even purely biological reasons
which make me think that 50/50 is impossible.

But there is something the male crowd could do. Evidently, women think
more in terms of cooperation than of confrontation. So if you want to
have them around, you'd better be nice and treat them well, offering
help and cooperation. There is a big part in the geek community
(intersecting with the Free Software community) which is very offensive
towards women. They'd better be silent.

I see a very good chance for us. FSF people are strongly
cooperation-oriented. So if we can show this cooperation to the "outer
world", women will come here more than to the proprietarists. Beat me,
but IMHO the latter have a stronger tendency towards sexism. A friend of
mine was the only girl at a big German IT company; she quit because she
was treated as if she was dumb.

> But since there are other organizations pursuing those goals, maybe
> the FSFE does not need to aim at fixing everything wrong in the world.
> What I mean is:
> 1.- The low proportion of women in free software is
> a problem for free software and we all should be aware of it. Keeping
> it in mind may help to avoid making it worse and helping people trying
> to solve it.
> 2.- Probably it is a problem that the FSFE does not want to or cannot
> attack because it is not particular to free software, as many other
> problems.

The low proportion of women in information technology is a general
problem, that's true.

I think that there are already organizations that want to help girls and
women into the technology field. Some know how to do it. If they're not
supported by proprietarists, it could be linked from fsfeurope.org.
Others don't know how to do it... Does anybody remember the painfully
pink Girls4IT homepage of a certain German ministry? :^> I don't think
they understand that stereotypes frighten away.


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