Ubuntu Open Week - Ubuntu Women - Melissa Draper - Thu, Apr 26, 2007

see also Monday session.


(11:10:30 AM) elkbuntu: Ok, we're currently missing our scheduled hostess, so I will fill in for her
(11:11:12 AM) elkbuntu: My name is Melissa Draper, I'm from Australia, and I've been involved with ubuntu for around 18 months
(11:12:05 AM) elkbuntu: Ubuntu Women was initially started by Vid Ayer and others.  I Understand that Sabdfl and Canonical helped register the domain and get resources in place.
(11:12:31 AM) elkbuntu: For a while we were a group of helpers with no leaders.  Several folks stepped up to get the group moving and now we have several projects that we are working on.
(11:12:58 AM) elkbuntu: our scheduled host was one of the ones who helped get the project moving again :)
(11:13:20 AM) elkbuntu: Anyway, the biggest question we get is "Why is there an Ubuntu-Women Project?"
(11:14:19 AM) elkbuntu: Some believe "Integration by Separation" is A Bad Thing™ but unfortunately it is necessary. It is not something I ever intended to get involved with, but I am now :)
(11:14:47 AM) elkbuntu: Many of our members came from other areas first and then we realized this is an area that still needs work to simply help level the playing field in Ubuntu and within many other F/LOSS projects.
(11:15:29 AM) elkbuntu: Unfortunately, even within Ubuntu, several female members have reported problems on mailing lists, within their loco teams and especially on IRC. . .
(11:16:28 AM) elkbuntu: Belinda actually posted something like this to a forum: ". . . when we start seeing the "I just got my tech skills insulted because of my gender" or "because I'm a man they just assumed I knew nothing technical about Linux/SysAdmin/prgramming/etc." post by men then we won't need women's groups."
(11:16:52 AM) elkbuntu: There are many technically capable women in the group and within F/LOSS, so it can be very frustrating when someone challenges your tech skills simply because "you?re a girl"
(11:17:16 AM) elkbuntu: And when we started sharing our experiences in IT, F/LOSS and even Ubuntu we realized that it is still happening.
(11:17:32 AM) elkbuntu: Even if you personally have experienced it or seen it happen, it can be very frustrating to see others go through bad experiences.  So the UW Project is also here to help in that area.
(11:18:15 AM) elkbuntu: Many of us joined the UW project because we found a welcoming group of folks who were open to questions and people with similar experiences as ours.
(11:18:35 AM) elkbuntu: At this point, i run out of notes, so I will start taking questions
(11:18:49 AM) elkbuntu: If there are any...

<zorglu_> QUESTION: dont you feel that by putting women in a special group, you actually follow a gender discrimination ?

  • I used to feel that way, but then I came to realise that it wasnt 'putting women in a special group', but rather providing an outlet for discussion, mentoring, etc. The group is more about sharing experiences, good and bad, and feeling comfortable and not along in the F/LOSS world. When 95+% of people around you are male, it can be *very* lonely

<richb> QUESTION: You mentioned problems with IRC, do you feel this is a problem with IRC itself (also mailing lists), in that essentially they are anonymous and make it difficult to police bad behaviour?

  • It's not IRC exclusive by any means. Anywhere people communicate openly is a problem area

    When guys are used to being around guys, and remember, there's <5% women in alot of IT areas, they get used to 'being guys' and often are quite mean, insulting and insensitive without intending it

<jjstwerff> QUESTION: should there be more ways to enforce the Code of Conduct on IRC? Like quicker banning people insulting women?

  • The ways are already there, but the problem is identifying the problem to start with. Often women don't speak up, and leave instead, so they dont ahve to put up with 'Oh, you're making a huge deal out of nothing' or 'Can't you take a joke?'

<jrib> QUESTION: since the creation of this group do you feel like things are getting better?

  • I cant really tell. U-W has effectively been around for the duration of my involvement in Ubuntu, so I don't know for sure what it was like beforehand. However, I hope that it has made some women more comfortable, having people they can relate to in an easy to find place.

<zorglu_> QUESTION: is there a ubuntu-men ?

  • No. But feel free to make one.

<bababian> QUESTION: will the UW team have some focus on children also? I mean spreading the true UBUNTU idea among the once perceived-to-be disadvantaged group?

  • I've been tossing up with the idea of #ubuntu-youth, where younger Ubunteros can go to find people their own age to geek out with.

<jrib> QUESTION: can men help by particiating in the group somehow?

  • Definately. Providing they're polite, helpful and dont exhibit the types of behaviours that Ubuntu-Women is there to couteract.

<luis_lopez> QUESTION: Any plans to have ubuntu-women website in languages other than english?

  • It would be great. Translation efforts are always welcome in every part of the Ubuntu community Wink ;)

<Belutz> QUESTION: will the UW team make an ubuntu theme for women?

  • Alot of people seem to think all women want is pink and flowers. This is not the point of Ubuntu-Women, or LinuxChix or any $distro-Women groups. It is about social attitude. However, there are already feminine themes on gnome-look.org and kde-look.org Wink ;)

<richb> QUESTION: You mentioned problems with people doubting technical skills based on gender, do you think positive promotion would be worthwhile or cause more problems?

  • I think it would definately be a good thing. One of the reasons I got involved with Ubuntu-Women, is as a role-model. I am a woman who is active and relatively successful in the community, and if it can inspire women, and give women a face, them I'm happy to do that

<Sanne> QUESTION: It's important for women and men to speak up against offending behavior against women. However, mostly it is unintended, so the one speaking up should make sure to not also offend, because that just gets up defenses. How can we make sure this doesn't happen?

  • I think it is extremely important. 'nipping it in the bud' for a lack of better definition is the best way to stop any problem before it blooms into a disaster. Negative reinforcement, when guys overstep the line, is one of the most effective ways we have to hammer the concept home

<Belutz> QUESTION: is UW team is a regional team or worldwide team? will there be a regional team for UW? or do you prefer it to be just a worldwide team?

  • It is a world-wide team, At the moment, regional activities etc are probably better done through regional LinuxChix chapters

<_dennis_> QUESTION: what's the estimated percentages of female ubuntu users

  • andreas lloyd gathered some statistics, as did i (still unreleased unfortunately), but the number of people who identify as women in the community are around 2.4%

<zorglu_> QUESTION: would you like to add a close in a code of conduct, specific to women ?

  • I do not believe this is necessary. The code of conduct already covers respect etc, and that is what this boils down to.

<bababian> QUESTION: Do you have many female team members from countries like China, South Africa, and other developing countries?

  • I dont know personally where everyone is from, but afaik Vid Ayer is indian.

<Belutz> QUESTION: has any men compained about the existence of UW team?

  • Plenty. They're usually the type that 'dont get it' and hence the reason why there does need to be a team

<Lynoure> QUESTION: I'm a woman but never thought or felt that being one or other sex made any difference for me in IT, as the results I feel very confused about UW. However, I feel strongly about equality. Is there some way I can help or at least not harm without getting into UW as such?

  • I am, well was with you in this mind at one point. We are the lucky ones. As I said before, the main reason I did get involved is because I can be a positive rolemodel. I'm not a shrinking violet and it's good to show women who've been unfairly treated that they can be brave. I think the best way you can help indirectly, as can anyone here watching this, is to speak up when someone steps out of line. Negative reinforcement is a powerful tool.

<Belutz> QUESTION: how do you feel about women that use computers only to do a particular jobs done, sometimes they think computer is windows and windos is computer, there are a lot of women who think like that in my country

  • I know more men like this than I do women. The problem is Windows having the majority mindshare, not women being unaware/uneducated.

<Nightrose> QUESTION: Where do you think is the point groups like UW and linuxchix are no longer needed?

  • When women are appropriately represented in the IT industry. When women don't feel chastised by their workmates and bosses. When women are on a fair pay scale. All those things are goals that we need to achieve before the mindset of inequality is filtered out

<Tm_T> elkbuntu: COMMENT: I think it's cultural thing to "teach" that tecnology is for boys only in some cases (sure it's ridicolous)

  • Believe it or not, I used to get that when I was younger. It's a deeper cultural issue than I think we'll see surpassed in our lifetimes, but it is the basis of the problem.

<Belutz> QUESTION: I also find that women who study computer science in my country still think the same, do you blame the curriculum or the women who don't want to explore the world of computer science?

  • I blame the curriculum, the media, etc. It is nothing to do with women. Maybe they just stand out more to you becuase they're already different?

<richb> QUESTION: There seems a popular perception that men assume that women will find Linux "hard to use" or worse still attach preconditions like "If Gnome had a pink theme, more women would use it!", obviously this is nonsense, is there an easy way to fix this perception?

  • Convert grandma to Ubuntu Wink ;) As i've been saying, this is the underlying issue. Women are not seen as equal, and hence are discriminated, discouraged and chastised.

<scresawn> QUESTION: Are there efforts by UW to showcase the technical competence of UW members? Wouldn't that help to address one of the problems here--that of a perceived gender/technology gap?

  • We would love to, and I believe someone in the group did surveys. It'd be interesting to see the results of that.

<bababian> QUESTION: will there be difference of mentality between geeks among women and non-geeks among women in terms of their attitude towards FOSS?

  • Do you mean geeks are more problematic than other people? I think this is equally a stereotype. Many perceive geeks as the fat loner who's never had a girlfriend, or the horny teenage geek. stereotypes are dangerous no matter when or to whom they're applied

    <bababian> i mean their understanding of the FOSS culture I'm still not sure what you're asking. Are you trying to ask if geeky women have more problems than other women? The problem is across the board in terms of gender problems, discrimination etc.

    <bababian> i think women who tinker with tech would know more about the FOSS issues than their nontech counterparts do, in terms of having a receptive mind towards Linux/Ubuntu likewise with men. Geeky men know Foss more than non-geeky men.

<Belutz> QUESTION: so how do you suggest to educate women about FLOSS?

  • The same way you educate a man.

<gnomefreak> do you expect the women geek or non geek be treated the same as men geek or non geek? I treat everyone same but this is one question ive seen beaten around but never asked to point)

  • I expect everyone to be treated equally. I expect the asian geeks and non-geeks to be treated the same as the american geeks and non-geeks, and so forth.

<Toma-> QUESTION: elkbuntu- whats the most attractive part about ubuntu that drew you and like minded women towards it?

  • the same things that drew the men to it.

    <Toma-> I was after the FOSS women Big Grin :) but hey, if thats what floats your boat :)

<Toma-> QUESTION: Whats the best way to sway a not-so-computer savvy girl to Ubuntu?

  • the same things you'd be swayed by. expecting a women to need a different type of computing environment, color, etc is part of the problem. we're all geeks. I like linux because of what it is, not by some girly feature. the same as you dont need racecars on the desktop to like the system or so forth.

<zorglu_> QUESTION: so women should be treated as anybody else without special consideration for their gender ?

  • YES that is exactly what we mean

    <zorglu_> so why a special group for them ?

    <Toma-> i was thking that too :(

    when you take a characteristic of a someone and make fun of it, it's not nice, it is not respectful. making jokes for about women is like making jokes about someone's race, religion, big nose etc. you treat people as you expect to be treated. you do not tease their characteristics. the reason we need ubuntu women is because that is not happening. when it does happen, we'll be fine

    <zorglu_> you mean this is happening more to women than to other minorities ? it is happening to every minority. however, the problem with female sterotyping is it exists as a sub-problem of most of the other minorities as well

    <Syk1> until my daughter (and I) can feel at ease in the Linux community then we'll appreciate groups like this. For now, an Ubuntu girl / woman is still a novel concept.

(12:01:11 PM) elkbuntu: ok, that's all we have time for... lets see who is up next

MeetingLogs/openweekfeisty/women2 (last edited 2008-08-06 16:20:03 by localhost)