Ubuntu Open Week - WIOS - Encouragement - Mackenzie Morgan - Thu, Nov 5, 2009
(04:00:50 PM) maco: Welcome to the Ubuntu Open Week Session on the Ubuntu Women Project: Solutions to Issues in F/OSS (04:00:57 PM) maco: My name is Mackenzie Morgan. I'm a test engineer at a Virginia-based consultancy firm specializing in supporting open source software. I've only been involved in Ubuntu Women for about a year, though I've been helping out with Ubuntu for a bit over 2 years. (04:01:31 PM) maco: You just heard a bit about the issues and history from Lyz, so now I'm going to bring up ways of fixing that (04:01:34 PM) maco: Ubuntu Women has 4 goals: 1) Support and Encouragement, 2) Mentoring and Direction, 3) Highlight active women within the community, 4) Education on Sexism and Feminism. (04:01:41 PM) maco: So first is Support and Encouragement. How can you, online or in your LoCo team, help support and encourage women in Ubuntu? (04:01:52 PM) maco: There are a number of good suggestions in the HowTo Encourage Women in Linux: http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/ but remember, this is a guideline, and a lot of it is aimed at how to deal with new group members. Of course, if you're already friends with the lady who just joined the group, you can keep treating her like your friend :P (04:02:12 PM) maco: That link really boils down to "be respectful." And yes, I know as someone who has dated an Ubuntu developer, you're all going to think I'm a hypocrite to point at something that says not to hit on people. My thinking is "Hello, nice to meet you. What's your name?" and "Marry me?" are not equivalent, and no, the joke isn't funny the 50th time someone hears it. (04:02:30 PM) maco: One thing on there I'd like to point out specifically is "3.5: Don't take the keyboard away." Nothing sends a stronger message that you don't think someone is capable of learning and of taking care of their own system than not letting them stay in the driver's seat. And this is true for how you should treat anyone new to the group or to Linux. (04:02:47 PM) maco: Another thing I think is important is that if a couple shows up, you should not direct all your technical questions to the male half of the couple. For all you know, she's a kernel hacker, and he uses the mouse as a footpedal. (04:02:58 PM) maco: Gender ratios in computer science classes don't exactly help us when it comes to finding women who are programmers. This should not stop us from finding women who can be developers. (04:03:16 PM) maco: Daniel Holbach & James Westby did a session earlier today on beginning Ubuntu Development. One important takeaway: you do not need to be a programmer! This is something which comes up a TON and thus bears repeating. You do not need to be a programmer! (04:03:24 PM) maco: Suddenly "there are fewer women writing code than men writing code" isn't a barrier. Feel free to encourage your non-programmer friends, men and women alike, to contribute. (04:03:34 PM) maco: Gareth asked a good question before about how not to appear patronising when encouraging a woman to get involved if you're a man. I'd say: be excited. "Oh! There's this really cool project and it totally lines up with your love of ______ so you should totally get involved!" (04:03:44 PM) ***maco slows down so you can all read (04:04:43 PM) maco: Any questions about that? (04:05:45 PM) maco: OK then... (04:05:53 PM) maco: OK, second is Mentoring and Direction. (04:06:05 PM) maco: In the Ubuntu Women project we like to mentor new users and those who would like to find a way to fit into the contributor community. (04:06:20 PM) maco: I used to think developers were really scary and that they'd think I was stupid if I made a mistake or asked a "dumb" question. I was wrong. As far as I can tell, the closest they get to thinking that is thinking it's silly of me to ask questions when I already know the answer. (04:06:55 PM) maco: If you've encouraged someone to start contributing but they're really nervous about asking beginner-contrib questions in big channels, well...#ubuntu-women is a pretty small channel. There are a few devs and devs-in-training hanging out there all the time. We try to be encouraging and helpful, and I will personally I will /kick anyone who makes fun of a beginner question. :) (04:07:31 PM) maco: er ignore one of those "I will"s ;-) (04:08:50 PM) maco: Do not make comments about how you do not want to have to handhold a girl, ok? If you don't want to mentor period, that's up to you, but assuming that one user or another will need more handholding to become a developer based on gender and not on things like "willingness to learn indepenently" isn't going to work. (04:08:58 PM) mode (+o czajkowski ) by ChanServ (04:09:54 PM) maco: And of course there are other ways to contribute besides traditional "development" such as all the ones found on http://www.ubuntu.com/community so if you meet someone who's really not interested in learning her way around the command line, but she's into art, GREAT! Point her to the Art Team! (04:10:13 PM) maco: Questions? (04:10:27 PM) czajkowski: 21:09 < MarkDude> QUESTION- besides being a 'peer' how can I help others see why this is a 'human' issue? (04:11:51 PM) maco: I think AlanBell's question actually fit this nicely. He mentioned how we've all got sisters and mums, and maybe wives or girlfriends too. How do you want the women in your life to be treated? Make people see that it's really about THAT (04:13:13 PM) maco: If you're calling someone out on something they said, try pointing out that if someone said that to their kid sister, they'd be none too happy about it (04:14:02 PM) maco: itnet7 asked in -chat for clarification on "don't take the keyboard" (04:14:46 PM) maco: Don't just snatch the keyboard away from the person you're helping. That shows a lack of trust in them. If they offer it to you, you can take it, but be careful. Are they offering because they really just don't care to learn, or because they're afraid of the computer? (04:15:21 PM) maco: If the latter, try to encourage them to take ownership of their system and lose that fear (04:16:28 PM) maco: More questions? (04:19:13 PM) maco: Ursinha says that "your mom's a woman too" doesn't always work, unfortunately. I'm not sure how to explain that to people who don't understand that though. If anyone knows a better analogy to use, I'm all ears (04:20:02 PM) maco: (04:20:04 PM) maco: Third was Highlight women active in the community. (04:20:15 PM) maco: You may have seen our "Women Behind Ubuntu" column in Full Circle Magazine (http://fullcirclemagazine.org/). This is one of the ways we try to do this. (04:20:59 PM) maco: Why do we do this? Being the only $foo in a room full of $bar is awkward and intimidating. OK, some people have really thick skins and it doesn't bother them, but really thick skin should not be a requirement for participation. Jonathan Carter (highvoltage, newest Ubuntu Developer) had a great blog post about this a while back http://jonathancarter.co.za/2009/09/30/the-importance-of-saying-hi/ (04:22:10 PM) czajkowski: MarkDude> QUESTION - Dealing with community members is not that hard. What about those in leadership positions? (04:22:30 PM) maco: Oi! It's not question time yet :P (04:23:07 PM) maco: Um, that's a hard one. (04:23:21 PM) maco: We have governance structures in Ubuntu for this reason though (04:23:35 PM) maco: Hopefully not *everyone* in the Community Council is plotting against you (04:24:09 PM) maco: If they are, that is frightening. (04:25:01 PM) maco: So, I guess the thing to do is privately take the person aside (which could mean email) and express your grievance calmly. Maybe point to relevant parts of the Code of Conduct. (04:25:06 PM) maco: Which you can find... (04:25:07 PM) maco: !coc (04:25:08 PM) ubottu: The Ubuntu Code of Conduct to which we ask all Ubuntu users to adhere can be found at http://www.ubuntu.com/community/conduct/ (04:25:13 PM) maco: there ^ (04:26:02 PM) maco: If you can't work something out privately, then it might be time to talk to the LoCo Council if you're having issues with your LoCo Team leader or to the Community Council if it's someone in the wider community (04:27:04 PM) maco: ok so back to my script...what was the last thing I said? (04:27:27 PM) maco: oh ok, this was the last thing (04:27:27 PM) maco: Why do we do this? Being the only $foo in a room full of $bar is awkward and intimidating. OK, some people have really thick skins and it doesn't bother them, but really thick skin should not be a requirement for participation. Jonathan Carter (highvoltage, newest Ubuntu Developer) had a great blog post about this a while back http://jonathancarter.co.za/2009/09/30/the-importance-of-saying-hi/ (04:27:34 PM) maco: Did it make it much easier for me at my first LUG meeting to see that there was another woman there? Yes. I wasn't alone. That's what we want to do: get rid of the feeling of isolation. (04:27:45 PM) maco: As Lyz mentioned, sometimes women use gender neutral or male names online as a form of protection. That's up to them, but I think it contributes to invisibility, which is something this horn-tootin' is supposed to battle. (04:28:04 PM) maco: That's why you *will* see me correct people on IRC who call me "he" (04:28:18 PM) maco: How can the guys help with this? Well, I'm also a member of LinuxChix, and over there we talk about horn-tootin'. If you see someone doing something awesome, say something! Hey, Amber's been writing really awesome articles on the Ubuntu community. (04:28:39 PM) maco: See, it's easy (04:28:47 PM) maco: And you know, this doesn't have to be something you only do for women, not at all! I think a lot of us get stuck in this mode where we complain about things that are broken but never take the time to say "thank you" or "you rock!" but doing so is really important. People want to feel appreciated. (04:30:03 PM) maco: So, if you're mentioning a list of people who do good work, think a second. Do you really not know any women who do good work? Or is it just that they're not in your circle of friends? Why not include one if you know of one? (04:30:50 PM) maco: OK....any new questions yet? This is like 3/4 of the way through what I prepared. Folks need to start asking questions! (04:31:39 PM) pleia2: < LaserJock> QUESTION: Does putting some women on a "pedestal" maybe lead to more problems? Like do you want them to be "heros" or "just another women in FLOSS"? (04:31:53 PM) maco: I hope I just answered that... (04:32:35 PM) pleia2: < MarkDude> QUESTION - We dont just need to try to encourage women to join, In general we need to encourage diversity? ( I think that makes us more interesting people on the whole.) (04:32:46 PM) maco: Yes! (04:32:58 PM) maco: Well really, saying it as "diversity" sounds odd too. (04:33:05 PM) maco: We need to encourage *everyone* to join (04:33:26 PM) maco: That some people are being discouraged is a problem, and so we need to do some encouraging to cancel out the discouragement effects (04:34:08 PM) maco: It just so happens that "everyone" is a rather diverse crowd (04:34:13 PM) maco: :) (04:34:15 PM) maco: Next? (04:34:17 PM) pleia2: < tiemonster> QUESTION: do you think having significant others' groups are a good trend, or should there be more of an effort to include them in the LUG? (04:34:56 PM) maco: As long as you call them that, I'm fine with it. Don't be like RubyFringe and have "Girlfriend Daycare" though (04:36:49 PM) maco: If you mean something about UW being a separatist group...I think Lyz covered that, right? (04:37:02 PM) pleia2: yep (04:37:18 PM) maco: We're part of the Ubuntu project, and we aim to help women move better within the wider projec (04:37:26 PM) maco: *project (04:38:01 PM) pleia2: < MarkDude> QUESTION - BBQ & beer - that is a great way to involve everyone - right? (04:38:40 PM) maco: Unless everyone includes underage folks, recovering alcoholics, vegetarians... (04:38:48 PM) maco: Yeah, I'm pretty sure those groups are part of "everyone" (04:39:20 PM) czajkowski: < Pendulum> QUESTION: How do we make it comfortable for people/women to speak up when they are feeling uncomfortable? If what's happened has you already feeling uncomfortable, it can make it difficult. (04:40:08 PM) maco: Among its other uses, #ubuntu-women has at times been a place for people to rant when something in the wider community really ticked them off or offended them (04:40:30 PM) maco: Hopefully such ranting doesn't need to happen too often, though. (04:41:44 PM) maco: Of course, finding someone who agrees with you can help. (04:42:43 PM) maco: I mentioned the Community Council before. Lyz here (pleia2) is on it. If you're uncomfortable raising an issue to one of the dudes on the CC because it was a sexism thing...talk to her (04:43:25 PM) maco: next? (04:43:33 PM) pleia2: < ssd7> QUESTION: Do you have any thoughts on how to encourage women that are simply users of free software and not just developers. Are there any unique problems in the user space? (04:45:07 PM) maco: Definitely want to encourage them to at least be part of the user community so they have a network of friends for getting help. That network of friends is something that makes Windows more attractive to people. They know who to call for help. (04:45:38 PM) maco: And like I said above: don't want to be a developer, but have other talents? We can always use artists, translators, and just plain helpful people (04:46:15 PM) maco: Also: don't make the non-developer types feel unwelcome (04:46:37 PM) maco: Next? (04:47:28 PM) maco: ok will try to get through the end before questions overwhelm (04:47:32 PM) maco: Finally, Education on sexism and feminism is one of our things. (04:47:35 PM) maco: This isn't a really big one, and I think Lyz just did it, so...? For this, I'm just going to point you to the http://geekfeminism.wikia.com wiki and http://geekfeminism.org blog as good places to learn about the issues. A handful of Ubuntu Women members are involved in both of those sites. (04:47:47 PM) maco: Lyz already mentioned the wiki (04:48:04 PM) maco: There are also a ton of "Feminism 101" resources on the web (04:48:28 PM) maco: What this means for you to try to help in this goal is simply calling people out. When someone does something discouraging or makes a sexist comment, publicly say "that's not cool." You don't have to be a target of it to call it out. And honestly? If you're on the same side of the privilege fence as the person making the comment, they might listen better. (04:48:45 PM) maco: And if you find yourself being called out? Apologize! Not "I'm sorry that you were offended" but "I'm sorry that I said ___." Take ownership of the issue. (04:48:55 PM) maco: Want an example of a really awesome apology? Check out the one Stephen Fry gave a few weeks ago: http://www.stephenfry.com/2009/10/19/poles-politeness-and-politics-in-the-age-of-twitter/ (yes, it's long, but notice how he admits that he is responsible for having said what he did) (04:49:22 PM) maco: OK, that's the end of the scripted bit. *Now* I'll take remaining questions (04:49:26 PM) pleia2: < gQuigs1> QUESTION: what is a good example of an event to include *everyone*? (04:50:01 PM) maco: A few days ago Laura Czajkowski gave a session on event organizing. She mentioned Geeknics. (04:50:29 PM) czajkowski: yup (04:50:31 PM) maco: Find a park, have a picnic, make it potluck style so everyone's guaranteed there's something they'll like (04:50:42 PM) czajkowski: cypher.skynet.ie/Openweek (04:51:12 PM) maco: Next? (04:51:14 PM) pleia2: < LaserJock> QUESTION: Is it possible to create too "safe" for a place? Can it can it create, for lack of a better term, thin skin when people have to deal with other communities? (04:52:30 PM) maco: I love the Ubuntu community. When I am shocked by visits to non-Ubuntu IRC channels, I consider this a deficiency in them, not in me. (04:53:21 PM) maco: Yes, I've gotten used to the cozy encouraging atmosphere we have. I don't think that makes abrasive arses any less of arses though. (04:53:54 PM) maco: There was one someone sent me before I starte (04:54:00 PM) maco: question: would it be helpful or merely silencing for men to take on some of the Unicorn Talks (to highlight that it's a *community* issue) (04:54:16 PM) maco: To that I say: allies rock! (04:55:07 PM) maco: A lot of you may have seen mdz's feminist blog posts. I'm glad to have such an eloquent person around to help take care of some of the burden (04:55:17 PM) maco: Next? (04:55:20 PM) pleia2: < efm> What are Unicorn talks? (04:55:27 PM) maco: Ah yeah, the Unicorn Law (04:55:46 PM) maco: I think emmajane came up with this one (04:56:01 PM) maco: Women in Open Source are like unicorns: we're only rumoured to exist :) (04:56:19 PM) maco: Well, what emmajane came up with is the Unicorn Law (04:56:56 PM) maco: and the Unicorn Law states something like (paraphrasing) the longer you are a woman in FOSS the likelihood that you will be approached to speak or write about women in FOSS approaches 1 (04:57:49 PM) maco: next? (04:57:54 PM) maco: (last one) (04:58:16 PM) maco: (further questions in #ubuntu-women, but others will answer them because I'm going out to dinner after this) (04:58:34 PM) pleia2: < Jesi-Idle> Question: by windows you must mean because it has so many users, because there really isn't much of a community at all there, there forums are rarely moderated, users rarely receiving any answers, it's not very inviting, so I have to ask what you mean by this, because I don't understand your point (04:58:52 PM) maco: Yes, because there are so many users (04:59:02 PM) maco: Windows users can turn to the next cubicle over for help (04:59:16 PM) maco: We usually can't, so it's important that we know where to find each other. (04:59:46 PM) maco: Alright, I think that's a wrap! Thanks for coming folks!