[free-software-melb] Cory Doctorow talk on 'Free Computing'

Matt Giuca matt.giuca at gmail.com
Thu Jan 12 22:36:15 UTC 2012

> Hi all,
> I came across something while researching for Adacamp about how to
> encourage women in linux<http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/>- it would also apply to FLOSS in general. As some of the people in
> Melbourne Free Software have accidentally (all with good intent) done some
> things that are advised against I thought it would be good to post here,
> just some stuff to bear in mind :).

Thanks for posting. I had a quick look through it. While a lot of it is
common sense, it sounds like common sense that some people need to hear. (I
hope I'm not among them.) Though I must say, I find some of those points
fairly demeaning towards women, actually.

In particular, the "Do compliment" section seems to be suggesting that,
unlike men, women need an extra special amount of coddling or they will
give up. It reads a bit like a "woman manual", talking about "her" in the
third person.
"If she learned bash scripting more quickly than you did, tell her so. Say,
"Wow, you learned bash scripting after X months. It took me 2*X months to
learn that.""
It seems to be suggesting that men should treat women the way loving
parents might treat an eight-year-old, shying away from criticism, and
taking great pains to give self-deprecating compliments. Can't we just
treat women as fellow hackers?

(Perhaps I'm just sensitive to that specific style of compliment, as if I
catch myself using it, I feel dirty afterwards. It seems to implicitly be
suggesting: "Even I, with my vastly superior knowledge of computing, took
2*X months to learn that particular thing. Well done on having bested me in
this one specific area.")

Back on the Cory Doctorow topic: That was a great video, Ben, and I
re-shared it earlier this week.

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