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shadowspar: Members of the band B'z, sitting down (b'z sitting)
Friday, December 6th, 2013 23:13

A little while back, I was asked on twitter: if tech conferences are, for women, an experience that's dangerous at worst and uncomfortable at best, how do we go about fixing it?

This is rather a big question—basically akin to "how do we eliminate sexism in society?" Conferences are a microcosm of the larger world; they transmit most of its problems and amplify some to boot. That being said, I'm certainly happy to outline what I think some reasonable starting points for allies might be.

Read more... )
shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (Default)
Friday, October 16th, 2009 03:50

First off: since Skud's OSCON keynote, I've been following the Geek Feminism blog. I think you should too.


Every now and again, something happens in our community that's problematic -- something racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise harmful. It can be something high profile, or something as seemly innocuous as a comment on a mailing list or irc channel. In fact, I shouldn't say "every now and again" -- it happens a lot. More than you might think.

This post really spoke to me -- this comment in particular. Part of the issue surrounding being a minority in FOSS is that your time and energy get diverted from the productive bits (coding, testing, writing, etc) whenever you're forced into dealing with incidents like the above.

We have a lot of amazing people from a lot of diverse backgrounds in FOSS, and we all benefit from their contributions and expertise. So when someone says or does something (intentionally or not) that makes people in the community -- our community -- feel unwelcome, or excluded, or threatened -- we all need to step up and address it.

Nobody wants to have their project saddled with behaviour that drives people away. We all benefit from an environment that's welcoming the broadest possible range of contributors. So when it comes time to deal with sexist behaviour, women shouldn't be the only ones paying the troll tax. Geek guys need to step up and take part of the load. I'm trying to start with me.

Guys, if your experience mirrors mine, you've been in the situation where someone else has done something that crossed the line. You've gotten that sinking feeling that what's just happened is wrong, but maybe you weren't quite sure what to do about it, or how to do something about it, or if you were even the right person to do something about it. I'm going to urge you to step outside of your comfort zone a little, and say or do something to let people know that this kind of behaviour isn't ok. A stern glance or a terse "not cool" can be enough. It doesn't have to be elaborate or involved, but it does have to happen, because silence is tacit approval. If nobody objects, it looks to all concerned as though it's ok.

This isn't a sermon from on high. Nobody is perfect, least of all me. There are going to be times when we screw up, or let something slide that we shouldn't have. We're human; it happens. What's important is that we make the effort -- a serious and genuine effort -- to work together, respect and support each other as fellow hackers and human beings.


(Some random links that inspired this post. I found them useful; I hope you will, too.)

shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (Default)
Monday, September 28th, 2009 23:20

I've been meaning to write this up for a while, but certain events impelled me to try to get it out while it still has a slight pretense of timeliness.

That thing you said... )
shadowspar: An angry anime swordswoman, looking as though about to smash something (Default)
Monday, September 28th, 2009 23:15

Two things about Mark Shuttleworth's remarks before I go on to talk about the bigger picture.

First: what he said (that Linux is "hard to explain to girls") represented a lapse in judgement, or at least phrasing; it wasn't a deliberate and calculated exercise in dumbassery à la CouchDB. That particular choice of words didn't seem like something Shuttleworth would be particularly invested in, which is why I can't understand why it seems to be so hard to set things aright with a simple "I misspoke; it's not cool to cast all women as technical novices; I'll try to do better in the future."

Second: what floors me even more than Shuttleworth's remarks is the reaction that's come from the community. When you can't even say "Hey, you know, I think we should talk about the issue of sexism in F/OSS" without a crowd of people telling you "OMG, you're blowing things out of proportion, there's no problem, STFU" -- that's a pretty good sign that there's a problem.