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Women in FOSS at OSWC II

Hi all,

I presented last week about women in FOSS on a panel at OWSC II in Spain
(opensourceworldconference.com). It was very interesting for me, because the
panelists were very varied. One women spent 25 minutes (we only had 5 mins
each) basically telling off the crowd for locking women out. This left a
very negative reaction from the men and women in the room, and to be honest
I felt quite sad to see her talk.

I basically took the stance that in the FLOSS world we have the opportunity
to and often are changing social norms. I spoke about the difference between
active and passive biases, and said that generally our community has a great
attitude towards individuals achieving whatever they want, and thus many
people who may be locked out in their normal environments by the social
norms (as discriminated by gender, age, disability, or whatever) are
actually pioneering a huge change of perspective and status quos. We have
created an environment for great people to be great. Basically I said we are
making the change in FLOSS and that the world is a better place for it.

It may sound a bit fluffy, and I only had 5 minutes, but I had many young
women and men come up to me afterwards so glad to be inspired. I think we
can achieve much more positive change in gender equality through a very
positive approach, and this panel "discussion" proved my point. The audience
walked away with a positive association rather than the negative feeling
that the woman harping on the bad stories invoked. I actually had one young
person say that the negative stories made him feel hurt, as he tries to
include women.  My differentiation between active biases and passive biases
helped him a lot.

Anyway, thought I'd share with y'all :)


Linux Australia                                         http://linux.org.au/
    "Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third
                             eye." - Bill Hicks

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