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Re: [all candidates] lack of women in Debian

On 2013-03-18 13:23, Mònica Ramírez Arceda wrote:
I would like to know your opinion about this graph (thanks Francesca!):

It's disappointing for me that the numbers compared to men are still so low, and things are even worse if you look only at active project members.

Note that I'm not asking for a way to recruit women (there are already
efforts on that). I would like to know if you think that this lack of
women affects (or not) the Debian project and how.

I think it is negative for Debian yes, but personally as a feminist I also see exclusion of women, whether or not it's intentional, as bad in itself.

To be fair to Debian, I think that much of the imbalance is from cultural attitudes about women and computers, and that any attempt to solve it properly would need to start in childhood education. As a mostly volunteer project, another part of the imbalance is from a cultural background that typically gives men time for hobbies but keeps women busy with housework and childcare.

But I do think that part of the imbalance is also from how we behave and structure ourselves as a project. For example, if we depend on existing personal contact to recruit new contributors, without actively reaching out beyond our immediate circles, it is unsurprising that we tend to recruit people with similar backgrounds and gender to our existing ones, and similar ideas.

For how it affects Debian, research appears to show that gender diversity makes organisations more successful. For example, research has looked at the composition of corporate boards, where women's representation is also very low, and found that companies whose boards include women do better, e.g. see this review that includes summaries of some more academic work
(which includes discussion of whether this is causation or merely correlation, etc.)

The list of possible reasons for correlation in "Rationalizing the link between performance and gender diversity" there could all be translated across to Debian as reasons to want gender diversity -- see my appendix below for a summary.

I also would like to know if you have any proposal related to this topic
that you would like to do if elected.

I would love for more people to be active in Debian Women projects, and for Debian to be a positive example in this regard not only by positive intentions but by showing that a higher degree of representation of women is possible.

If I am elected, I would like us try some more active methods to reach out to new contributors. It will be important for us to think about how we should structure this to try to reach groups who are not yet well represented in Debian, including women, and I would welcome your participation to look at how we can do that best.



Here's a summary of their list of suggested reasons:

"1. A signal of a better [organisation]"
"it may signal greater focus on corporate governance and second because it is a sign that the company is already doing well"

"2. Greater effort across the board"
"the majority group improves its own performance in response to minority involvement"

"3. A better mix of leadership skills"
"For instance, women were found to be particularly good at defining responsibilities clearly as well as being strong on mentoring and coaching employees"

"4. Access to a wider pool of talent"
"by 2010, the proportion of female graduates across the world came to a median average of 54%"

"5. A better reflection of the consumer decision-maker"
"According to a book published by Boston Consulting Group in 2010, 73% of US household spending decisions are controlled by women."

"6. Improved corporate governance"
"more gender-diverse boards were more likely to focus on clear communication to employees, to prioritize customer satisfaction, and to consider diversity and corporate social responsibility"

"7. Risk aversion"
"having at least one female director on the board appears to reduce a company’s likelihood of becoming bankrupt by 20%, and that having two or three female directors lowered the likelihood of bankruptcy even further"

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