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Re: Debian, lists and discrimination

On Fri, Aug 06, 2004 at 10:56:49PM -0500, Manoj Srivastava wrote:
> On Sat, 7 Aug 2004 10:41:33 +1000, Matthew Palmer <mpalmer@debian.org> said: 
> > On Fri, Aug 06, 2004 at 01:47:51PM -0400, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:
> >> Or is the contention that there is some barrier to involvement by
> >> women (and only women) in the project itself?  Because such an
> >> allegation should be backed up with some solid facts.
> > Barrier to involvement by anyone who doesn't feel keen on getting
> > involved with a percieved bunch of rowdy social-teenagers.  Which
> > happens to primarily be women (although I know several men who have
> > declined active participation in Debian, despite definitely being
> > technically qualified).
> 	I strongly suspect that this is not limited to women -- indeed,
>  people raised in the occidental tradition, regardless of gender, may
>  be better able to deal with the culture in Debian than societies
>  where one role in the group is percieved to be more important than
>  individual beliefs and views.

So you think that changing our culture to be less confrontational would be
beneficial to encouraging participation by multiple groups?  Excellent.

> > As to the barriers to involvement in Debian by women, it's pretty
> > obvious that our gender participation ratio is decidedly different
> > to that of the IT industry in general, let alone the general
> > population.  I believe (although I'd find it harder to back up with
> > real numbers) that our female / male participation ratio is also
> > lower than participation in the wider OSS world.
> 	Hmm. What do you feel about the participation of
>  affrican-americans in the project? Native americans? Indians, given
>  the hoopla about the growing strewnght of the Indian IT globally?

I think we're probably under-represented amongst those groups, too, and I
think that if there's anyone who feels that it may be to the project's
detriment they should try to work out the reasons why and try to rectify
those if appropriate.

I'm participating in the issue of women in Debian because I have prior
experience in the area of women in "non-traditional" roles.  I have no
experience in african-americans or Indians in "non-traditional" roles, so I
probably won't be as useful in that endeavour.

> 	Does it bother you that the Project seems to be predominantly
>  Christian (as in most developers come from a Christian background)?

I wonder if we're possibly losing something because of this predominance.

>  Why not?  Given that the project is a global one, don't you think
>  Buddhists are under represented? Hindus? Muslims?

Compared to the population, there's no doubt all of those groups are
underrepresented, and they're probably underrepresented relative to the
general prevalence in IT, and possibly in OSS.

> 	I would suspect there are a number of constituencies that are
>  under represented in Debian, for a myriad of reasons.

Yup.  The question is: are we losing something because of their lack of
representation (quite probably), what can we do about it (many things,
depending on why they are under-represented), and are the changes we would
have to make be net-beneficial?

- Matt

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