[Actionchix] Re: [Issues] OK that *was* a little negative - here's
the positive side of me!
mallory.chua at students.olin.edu
Wed Jun 22 12:43:27 EST 2005
If I may resummarize (badly) what I think I've been hearing on the
1. It would be great to see more women develop open-source software,
because we are a fairly untapped group with talents and skills and an
unique perspective that can Do Cool Stuff.
2. We want to encourage women to get involved with technical issues -
to become beginners and start learning.
3. We want to encourage and help women that have learned cool things to
be able to use them to help others - help them channel and leverage
their energy for maximum benefit.
4. How do we do this?
Here's a thought.
Google's Summer of Code sounds wonderful. (App deadline is over now, but
the page and explanations are still up at
http://code.google.com/summerofcode.html) Why not sponsor something like
it - don't necessarily go for a full-fledged distro right out, but have
the experienced programmers volunteer as mentors to the less experienced
ones, have everyone post project suggestions - start with small, very
doable things that we can actually do well; have a three-month (or so)
"project time" so everyone feels like they're pulling together and we'll
help each other along towards the same goal of Get Project Done By X
Date (as opposed to having projects start and end pell-mell), and... go
from there? Kind of like an apprenticeship. One thing I've seen, being a
teenage girl with an interest in open source, is that it's /really,
really hard /to find a good mentor. And nothing against males at all - I
have had wonderful male teachers - but it makes a difference, really, to
have a strong female mentor that really knows her stuff.
For those who are computer-comfy but haven't programmed before, projects
can go from learning html and web-admin stuff and keeping the Linuxchix
Summer of Code website up to date, or - I saw my roommate (a 19 year old
female), who had never programmed and was very nervous about anything
involving computers, go from that - to turning out a graphical poker
game you could play over the campus network in python - within a
semester. And this was on top of all her other classes and clubs and
choir and drama, so it's not like she devoted hours and hours daily to
it; just a couple hours a week. So small learn-as-you-go projects are
For those who want to get computer (or Linux) comfy, I've had a design
project in mind that could turn into the Linuxchix distro, possibly. I'm
really into user interface design, and I'd love to have a design team
made of folks across all skill levels - from "what's a mouse?" to "I can
patch kernels in my sleep!" (leaning more towards the former) to work
with, objective being to create a killer open-source "family machine."
You know, the computer you'd have in your living room or by the kitchen
or otherwise acting as your "general house computer." Everything from
the physical hardware to the software interface to the... heck, you
could wire it to your bathroom lights, if you really wanted - would be
open to questioning and overhauling, and the goal would be to make it as
"hack-friendly" as possible. To be so friendly and intuitive as to
/encourage /people to play around, make their own things - because
that's how you get interested, that's how you learn.
Now, I don't know a lot about anything, and I could be talking crazy
here. I'm a student, I'm new to this, and I probably rank near the
bottom in terms of Linux knowledge, but... I'm trying to learn, and I'd
like to Do Something. Something to help out. Any thoughts?
Máirín Duffy wrote:
>On 6/21/05, Julie Bovee <joulie at gmail.com> wrote:
>>I appreciate your comments, but I didn't intend to get into a
>>discussion of women's equality in software and cultural barriers for
>OK Julie. My thought was that you are passionate about the problem of
>there being not enough women doing paid work in FOSS (enough to write
>the guy a letter), and you'd like to take action to solve the problem.
>If that were the case, wouldn't it be important to answer the question
>why it is a problem, why women are not getting hired? Forgive me for
>assuming you were interested in tackling that specific problem rather
>than just backing Paula up. I was not trying to "trap" you nor start a
>long-winded debate as they are quite unfun and pointless.
>>I'd just like to take a quick moment
>>to try to clarify what I wanted to say.
>Thank you, I did ask you to please correct any incorrect assumptions I made.
>> To me, that implies that no
>>companies are hiring women to do that work.
>If it makes you feel better, Red Hat is. We've had a couple of recent
>female hires in Engineering.
>>With that in mind, the main point I wanted to make is that many people
>>seem to agree there are not enough women in open source (for various
>>highly debatable reasons)
>I'm not so sure that they are debatable rather than complicated....
>and we seem to agree that we'd like to see
>>more women find a way into open source. I wanted to show some support
>>for Paula's suggestion, because I think it's worth considering, even
>>if it would be hard to achieve and sustain.
>>Women are not the same as men, and we shouldn't be required to try to
>>be the same as men and to force our way into male-dominated projects.
>>We should be able to find our own way to do open source that supports
>>our needs and gives us the opportunity to work on the things that
>>really interest us. I have no idea how that could be successfully
>>done, but it's good to keep high aspirations in our minds, that's how
>>the big changes in the world come to pass.
>I see your point here. Perhaps another approach would be to scale it
>down, start a single project, maybe building an app, maybe something
>else, but something small, and try to create a more women-friendly
>development process/structure for it rather than try to create yet
>another distro? It could be used as sort of a testing ground for going
>on to tackle a women-centered distro if you really feel that's the way
>Important questions to ask though are: what things about FOSS
>development processes are specifically male and are causing problems?
>How could they be changed such a way to be friendlier to woman without
>stifling development? What is it about computers and FOSS computers in
>particular that makes them difficult for women to use (they feel
>"male"), and what steps can be taken to be make them more
>female-friendly? What sort of apps would a female-driven distro have
>that are different than the current distros? Etc., etc.
>It would be hard to go forward with some idea of how to answer these questions.
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>Issues at linuxchix.org
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