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Re: new member presentation

Lesley Binks wrote:
I think we could discuss women and their own perception of their
capabilities, and the fact that society largely still encourages them
to perceive themselves in such a light, etc etc.
Okay some people are technophobes or just hopeless with any technology
be it car, bike or computer whereas others are completely at home with
technology and science.
I don't think there is a gender bias in the skill - the bias comes
about where society expects women to be inept and men to be capable -
and by society I don't necessarily mean
 politicians or leading feminist thinkers - although they may have an
effect  By society I mean school, parents, family, friends and
associates who think it might be really bad if a 6 year
old is bought mecaano set for no other reason than she is female and
she should make do with a Cindy doll just like they did.

Ooh, can I play devil's advocate here? <grin>

Disclaimer: all of the following are things I believe to be true on average. Clearly lots of people don't follow the average and clearly I'm one of them.

Why would the skill, whatever one might mean by that (how you define skill in any area can surely vary), not have a gender bias?

Men and women have some fundamental differences, on average. The physiological differences are far-reaching and affect every part of our body including our brain. It seems pretty obvious to me that they can also affect the way we think about different things.

As far as I know, studies have tended to back this up, even studies that were designed not to pick up on stereotyped differences but to look at the different ways our brains might solve different types of problems. There are also countless anecdotes of kids who were brought up intentionally without gender stereotypes (for example that boys play with guns, girls with dolls), who ended up wanting those gender-specific toys anyway. (me, I'm a woman and I liked dinosaurs - I am not in any way suggesting that any of this goes for all or any particular individual).

We grow and think differently, and experience very different things in our lives as a result of being men and women (I'm currently pregnant, and really very aware of the profound differences, across many different areas, this is making to my life compared to the differences it is making to my husband). With all this difference, why would we expect to be equally good at any particular field of endeavour, IT/CS/technology included? (Note I'm not suggesting who might be better or worse, on average, in a given field.)

I believe that many more women have the potential to be excellent at technology stuff than currently are. And that there are also areas where more men have the potential to be excellent than currently are. I believe that societal rules, customs, programming and expectations are a problem for all of this. But I don't for a moment think that in an "ideal" society where all those customs and expectations were not acting, that you'd end up with a 50:50 split between men and women in any field.

I've been using Debian for too many years to remember now. I got very involved in Debian Women a few years back, don't have much time for it at the moment. But I have a feeling that maybe, when the baby arrives, I'll end up so lacking in intellectual stimulation (visions of me drowning in a sea of nappies, basically) that I'll get back into Debian more as a source of fun, friendship and people to talk technology with. Yay for things that can be done a few minutes at a time (when baby sleeps) from my desk at home :)

And yay for Debian and the Debian Women Project!


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