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Re: Just a single Question for the Candidates

On Wed, 03 Mar 2004 12:11:46 +0000, Helen Faulkner <helen_ml_faulkner@yahoo.co.uk> said: 

> I agree with Ben that the problems are more subtle than overt.  I
> have never noticed overt sexism in my dealings with debian, though
> maybe I haven't been looking awfully hard either.

	Well, at least that sounds positive.

> I think that on average, women are likely to be not so confident
> that their skills will allow them to survive in an environment like
> debian, compared to their male counterparts.  I don't know why this
> is true, but I experience it all the time.  My only guess is that
> it's basically cultural, and that it's deeply rooted even in someone
> who is generally sure of her technical/learning skills, as I am.

	Conversely, my wife opines that men tend to be more
 aggressive, and this may be an inherent characteristic of the
 species (human nature, in other words). From what the two of you are
 saying, it seems that it is a combination of these aspects of the
 so called human nature that is creating this barrier.  I am not sure
 I understand this, but I keep being told this.

> I have never had a hostile experience with debian, but I still feel
> really unconfident when I interact with the debian community, even
> if it's only posting a bug report.  I don't understand why this is
> so, but it's very real.  Partly it's knowing that I'm going to be
> dealing with a man (almost certainly), and he may assume I don't
> know what I'm doing, and he may put me down or be condescending or
> unkind as a result.

	I hope that if any of this ever happens in the future, you
 would be so kind as to point it out to us, so that we may point
 fingers and laugh at him. ;-)

> To overcome the problem (and yes, I do believe lack of input from
> half of humanity is a problem), I think debian needs to get less
> "scary" towards women.

	Umm. This a characterization that I have a problem with.
 Firstly, this is still a matter of choice, and we are, after all, a
 purely volunteer organization.  There are large categories of people
 who choose not to volunteer and we are being deprived of their input,
 which could all be potentially valuable.

      Should we be targeting any of these groups of people who do
 not yet choose to volunteer for Debian and/or free software? (The
 young republicans? Greenpeace? environmentalists? the NRA?). If
 Debian is a hostile environment towards any of the groups that have
 not yet chosen to join us in significant numbers, yes, that would be
 a problem.  Any overt acts of hostility should be reacted to.

	However, if changing the status quo involves changing human
 nature, I am not sanguine about the efficacy, or even the wisdom, of
 such an action.  Also, should we be selecting which one of these
 groups of individuals that do not yet participate in our volunteer
 activity, and trying to make them change their minds? Would having
 more activists in Debian be a good idea?

> Maybe if the word went out that women would be actually welcomed,
> people would be more interested.  Something on the website,
> possibly?  I also think that all debian people could bear in mind
> that when a woman is interacting with you, it's likely that she's
> nervous about doing so.  That's not your fault, but it's helpful if
> you are sensitive to the possibility, Remember that women in western
> countries spend their whole lives getting told that they are not
> supposed to be any good at computers, and some of that sticks
> subconciously, even when we don't believe it really.

	I have always done women the courtesy of not treating them
 like hot house flowers, I assume that they are my equals, and
 interact with them as such.  I'll try and be extra "unscary", to the
 best of my ability to do so.

 who is probably gonna be labelled misogynist now

Satellite Safety Tip #14: If you see a bright streak in the sky coming
at you, duck.
Manoj Srivastava   <srivasta@debian.org>  <http://www.debian.org/%7Esrivasta/>
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