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Bug#290587: marked as done (www.debian.org: please fix gender-biased language in doc/user-manuals)

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Received: (at submit) by bugs.debian.org; 2 Aug 2004 22:42:40 +0000
>From helen_ml_faulkner@yahoo.co.uk Mon Aug 02 15:42:40 2004
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Date: Mon, 02 Aug 2004 23:42:56 +0100
From: Helen Faulkner <helen_ml_faulkner@yahoo.co.uk>
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Subject: Please change sexist language in debian (English) webpages
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Package: www.debian.org

This bug reports a problem with content on the website.  It was 
suggested that I file it against www.debian.org, but if there is an 
actual different package name for the website (I couldn't find one), 
please file this bug against that.

I have noticed some examples of sexist language on the debian website, 
looking at the English-language pages.  Most examples take the form of 
assuming that a developer will always be male, a project leader will be 
always male, etc.  This can be offputting and potentially offensive to 
women like myself who wish to become debian developers, and encourages 
people make the assumption that all developers etc are male.

Note that most of the pages I have looked at on the website are fine in 
this regard.  The most common strategy seems to be avoidance of gendered 
pronouns (ie writing to avoid use of he or she), and use of he/she where 
it's too awkward to avoid the pronoun altogether.  Some pages use "they" 
as a gender-neutral pronoun.

The worst example I have seen is here:

I suggest rewording that page as follows (between ***s). The first 
paragraph of this was written by Carla Schroder:
"There is a checklist of what a NM has to do. The NM needs a GPG
key signed by a developer, then has to answer some Philosophy and
Procedures questions. The Tasks and Skills test proves that the NM has 
the experience to be a good Debian developer.

You should advocate someone when you think that he/she is ready to be a 
developer -- i.e. has the required skills and has been involved with the 
project for some time. Just ask yourself if you want to see this person 
in Debian -- if the answer is yes then go ahead with your recommendation

The exact steps are like this: you agree to recommend a prospective 
developer and he/she signs up. Then you have to go to this site, click 
on the correct name in the listing of applicants, go to the "advocate 
this application" page, put in your Debian login and press the 'submit' 
button. You will then receive an e-mail with an auth key which you have 
to return GPG/PGP signed. When this is done, an AM will be assigned to 
goes through the NM steps with the prospective developer."

Other examples of similar problematic wording are at the following 
pages.  I doubt this is an exhaustive list.  In most cases, the change 
would be a case of substituting "she/he" for "he" in a small number of 
places.   I wonder if it is possible to automate the process of 
searching webpages for "he" and "his" and subsitituting "he/she" and 
"her/him", as a way of ensuring that there aren't any other pages on 
www.debian.org with similarly sexist language.  Presumably other such 
things could be done for the pages in languages other than English, if 
the problem arises in those languages.


(I wonder if I were to fill out the form would it come up with "he's 
looking for a sponsor", like the others?)






Thank you,

Helen Faulkner.

Received: (at 290587-done) by bugs.debian.org; 10 Feb 2005 10:38:42 +0000
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I've changed doc/user-manuals to use gender-neutral language, so this
bug is fixed.


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