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Re: Re: Just a single Question for the Candidates

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.

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.

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 think getting over this hurdle is probably hard for a great many women. I know it puts me off thinking about becoming a debian developer, even though I could probably technically manage it. I'm only writing this post at the prompting of a male friend. If he hadn't hassled me about it, I would not have posted this, incase those "scary" debian guys laugh at me, or I make a mistake in posting, or something.

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. 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.

This is my opinion, anyway :)

Helen Faulkner

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