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Re: Another "Women in Open Source" Session

Okay, sorry...late night @ LinuxWorld and I missed this going by...comments inline after DMC


On Aug 8, 2005, at 10:04 PM, Clytie Siddall wrote:

On 09/08/2005, at 7:15 AM, Erinn Clark wrote:

Could you explain what you meant in this comment:

"It's the classic, 'Are we going to talk about the relationship again?'" Cooper said in response to an audience question, prompting laughter and applause. "That's what Debian Women is about -- can we figure out a way
to talk?"

DMC - Of course comment taken out of context, so hard to parse (don't you love journalists?). There was a woman in the audience commenting about learning differences between genders. It was her claim that learning differences and communication style differences along gender lines were now a scientific fact. She was positing that it would be a positive thing for women to congregate in open source contexts because we were more likely to understand each other...which I found interesting because my own husband and I have noticed interesting gender role reversals in our relationship.

The women in the panel had been trying to decide what was common amongst us and one observation was that we all felt very comfortable with male friends and so were not put off by flamewars, etc.. We threw around various theories, both in the session and in our conversation to prepare for the session. But this comment from the audience made me think "Ah ha! Maybe for some reason my personal style is somehow in the middle and that might contribute to whatever ability I may have to bridge between male communication styles and female ones." But that "Ah ha!" as silent. What came out (bouncing off a later part of the audience member's comment about how we all experience this difference in our relationships) was a throw-away joke comment that got a big laugh...modeling the "talk about the relationship" stereotype.

The next bit of the quote I think came a few nods and comments later...where I was trying to say that DW was perhaps successful because it gives women a place to talk about the Debian experience on their own terms. And I suspect also shows the men subscribed what that looks like. Its got to be a bridge to conversation ("Can we find a way to talk?")

It's not really clear to me what that means and I'm not sure that the
last bit is actually consistent with DW's goals, so any clarification
would be much appreciated.

I don't know, Erinn... I would say that a comment like that touched an ongoing embarrassment with and reluctance to discuss gender issues, where there is so much explosive material, and where so many people have sore spots or are unsure of their views. It's not a linear matter: it's full of lateral possibilities, not something that can be controlled by a procedure or technical structure. Who knows what will happen?

You'd probably find less discomfort with this topic in a group of psychology students, but you'd still get the laugh. ;)

DMC - Personally I find opportunities to rif on common experience a good way to relieve tension buildup in an audience considering a charged topic as we were presenting.

We do need to find a way to talk about these things: a way where people feel safe to say what they think, and can find ways to say it that mean others are safe, too. We have some very heavy issues to resolve, and it's not easy. How many people here will leave the washing-up until the next day, or put off talking about something uncomfortable with another human being?

We have a lot of washing-up to do. ;)

DMC - That much is clear from the very few interactions I've had (compared to you women) wrt the topic. Many liberal, carefully PC men find themselves oddly "challenged" by the idea of a women-focused list (in places like Apache, but I don't think their reaction is singular). Fear pops up immediately: "Are you going to exclude men?" is the first question, followed by "Won't such a list be divisive in the community?". It took Jean and I two weeks to get Apache to the point of willingness to give us a private, moderated list to "discuss what we mean by a women@ list"...which by no means says we'll get to have a public list. And Apache is the "moderate" community. My respect for the ones who convinced Debian grows...

from Clytie (vi-VN, Vietnamese free-software translation team / nhóm Việt hóa phần mềm tự do)

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