Some thoughts regarding DW
I just sat down to skim-read the many threads that I appear to have
neglected on here during the past week (I've been in a coding frenzy)
and there are a few things that I think need mentioning.
It seems that there's a bit of a misunderstanding going on here. I
think it needs to be reemphasised that Debian Women is about
integration -- integrating women into the Debian development community
(not the user community). Furthermore, Debian Women is not an
affirmative action project; I (and many others) believe that making
things easier for women, in the sense of lowering standards is
entirely unconstructive and detrimental.
Here's the problem -- the programs, scripts and infrastructure that
comprise and facilitate the development of a distribution such as
Debian are, for the most part, technically complex. Unsurprisingly,
the way other things in Debian work reflect this. For example, Debian
uses version control for its website -- something that many
organisations would not bother with. In forming an group like Debian
Women, it would be tempting to say, "Oh let's use tools that are
easier to use, so that more people can get involved," but in fact this
goes against the primary goal of Debian Women: integration. If we use
easier tools than the rest of Debian, we are doing ourselves an
injustice. We are segregating ourselves, and we are not helping Debian
Women members to gain the skills that they will need to get involved
in Debian proper. Given the goal of Debian Women is integration, I
think it's critical that we use the same tools that are used in other
areas of Debian. Of course, many Debian Women members may not be
experienced in using such tools, thus making the barrier for
involvement a bit higher, but the way to rectify this not to use
simpler tools, but to provide tutorials etc., to develop transferrable
skills that can be used in other areas of Debian. Put another way,
Debian Women should be acting as a stepping stone or portal to the
rest of the Debian project.
Similarly, I think that creating Debian Women sub-projects, focussed
on some task that already happens in the rest of Debian (packaging,
translation, etc.) is unconstructive. Such sub-projects may provide a
welcoming and safe place for women, but I'm not sure they do much to
integrate women into the Debian project. While clearly not the intent,
I fear they encourage women to segregate themselves, and work only
within the Debian Women community.
To summarise: Debian Women is about integration; let's not forget it.
hanna m. wallach