[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: "Girls and software"

2014-02-11 5:04 GMT+01:00 Martín Ferrari <tincho@debian.org>:
> Even if the author seems to be looking for controversy, starting from
> the title, I think there are many interesting points in this article:
> http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/girls-and-software

I don't think the title is the problematic thing, she seems to
actually be referring to girls. Regarding the contents of the article,
it essentially is a rant against how her son is discriminated against
in girl-oriented tech activities, and how she has never experienced
any kind of discrimination in the hackers' word. Good for her. I know
other women in that situation, that either have not experienced
discrimination themselves, or that they don't give much importance to
it ("If someone of any gender does something that violates my
boundaries, I assume it was a misunderstanding"). Of course, it might
have affected that she was already used to be discriminated against
for other reasons, according to her story ("As a little girl from farm
country who'd repeatedly been excluded from intellectual activities
because she wasn't wealthy or urban or old enough to be wanted").

After talking about herself, and how she startet to be a hacker, she
seems to agree with some of the more generally accepted thesis: That
we need to involve young girls in technologyu if we want to have
female hackers and technologists ("Twelve-year-old girls today don't
generally get to have the experiences that I did. Parents are warned
to keep kids off the computer..."). Of course, she is kind of
despising the fact that many women (and men) come to technology when
they are already grown up. That's some kind of agesim ("Young women
don't magically become technologists at 22. Neither do young men.
Hackers are born in childhood...").

The she cries about how her son is discriminated against ("his school
offered a robotics class for girls only. When my son asked why he
couldn't join, it was explained to him [...]. My son came home very
confused."), and goes on blaming us feminists ("Thanks so much,
modern-day "feminism", for putting very unfeminist ideas in my son's
head..."), as if it was us who invented discrimination. No comments on
this, although I have my personal ideas on why some women have this
point of view.

Still, she even accepts than even in her so gender-inclusive town
("There's another place in my life, besides my home, where the idea of
technology being a "guy thing" is totally absent: my hometown"), there
are some gender issues regarding technology and kids ("girls aren't
being raised to hack any more in my hometown than they are anywhere
else. When I talked to those fifth-grade math classes, the boys told
me about fixing broken video game systems or rooting their phones. The
girls didn't do projects--they talked about fashion or seeking
popularity--not building things").

Afterwards, she complains about being pushed by non-programming women
around her ("Sometimes I want to shout "you're not a programmer, what
are you doing here?!" ") to be more feminine, and how she might not be
a role model for many girls. The point of not being openly feminine is
relevant, though, as it helps being accepted and respected by both
males and other females in technological contexts, though I'm not
gonna expand on it here.

Oh, I also forgot to mention about the stereotypes she's including in
her rant ("who'd have me passive-aggressively redcarding anyone who
bothers me or feeling like every male is a threat", "hackers are
generally kind of socially inept").

I don't think her personal experience -or mine, or any particular one-
should be taken as universal. I acknowledge that she probably has
experienced what she's describing, and I'm glad that she's so happy.
And that's the end of what I can see in her article that has some
value for me. The problem of generalizing personal experiences is that
you leave out of the equation all those who have had different ones,
that's where objective data enter into account. And objective data,
statistics, tells us that the hacker's world for girls is and was a
very different thing that what she's describing in her article.

The last part is simply the standard rant about how we are
discriminating males ("Do not punish the men simply for being here.
"Male privilege" is a way to say "you are guilty because you don't
have boobs, feel ashamed, even if you did nothing wrong""), doing
artificial social engineering ("to drag grown women in chains to LUG
meetings and attempt to brainwash them to make you more comfortable
with the gender ratio"), and how we're scaring poor "good guys" with
our intents ("it just makes good guys afraid to interact with women
because they feel like they can't win").

So, my general impression of the article is that the author is
generally happy with the statu quo, that she doesn't think that there
is a problem with the gender imbalance and that nothing should be done
about it. That's okay, she's definitely free to think that, but some
of us think opposite, that there is a problem. We might not have the
recipe for solving it, I wish we had, but we know that we don't have
from a perfect situation, unlike her ("I had a haven, a place where no
one cared what I looked like, what my body was like or about any
ephemera--they cared about what I could do--and this culture shift has
robbed me of my haven"), and thatwe would like to do something to make
it better.


Reply to: