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GNOME Reaches Out to Women 672

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the all-the-ladies-in-the-house dept.
Dominic Hargreaves writes "This year GNOME received 181 applications to Google's Summer of Code program, yet none were from women. As a result, they've decided to address this imbalance by launching an outreach program to sponsor three female students to work on GNOME-related projects this summer." Most any science department will tell you that the amount of interest and involvement of women pales next to men of similar age and background. Is this sponsorship a creative way to get women interested in GNOME, or is it merely sexist?
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GNOME Reaches Out to Women

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:10PM (#15545816)
    Women make up 51 percent of the population, and because of this, Linux
    should be banned in government. Operating Systems like Linux discriminate
    against women because of a built in difficulty compared with Windows and
    Apple's OS X.

    Women pay taxes, and therefore shouldn't be discriminated against in
    getting employment with government agencies. If these agencies had used
    Windows or OS X, more women would be able to persue dreams of a full time
    job in government. Linux is by its nature a man's domain. Women are
    designed to use social interaction and emotions to deal with complex
    tasks, things the command line are ill suited.

      OS X, and Windows have
    friendly and female-intuitive designs that take into account a woman's
    understanding of objects,ie. folders, desktops, Clippy, the XP search dog.
      These help women operate the computer by giving her a relationship with
    these icons, and helpful animated pets. It makes a woman feel at home
    with her computer by allowing her to relate to it.

    Linux, on the other hand is designed for command line and programming.
    Sure, it may have a fugly GUI to hide its true being, but to get any
    serious work done you must know a bunch of archane commands with hundreds
    of options that change with every command. Something like this: chmod
    a+rwx. Only enginners can understand this. And most engineers are still
    men. This puts the female population at a great disadvantage when
    appliying for work. Men know this, and that's why they delibratly try to
    install linux in the workplace.

    How would womens groups react when they read the studies that are being
    commissioned by industry on this very subject? Surely, women, when they
    learn of this, will outvote men and ban linux from the government.
  • ...or the rest of the male coders?
  • Apparantly I have to be female even to read the post... :( Honestly though, I would love to see more women in my work place.
  • by Fry-kun (619632) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:11PM (#15545828)
    ..that's why they prefer KDE

    me sexist? that's unpossible!



    • Actually, they are. (seriously) It's said that women are messy (things out of place), but what's under it is clean. Guys frequently have things in order, but what's underneath is dirty.

      My wife is a serious, but self-taught cross-stitcher. Many believe the reverse side should be as nice as the front (no jibes from the peanut gallery) and her work is. I forgot to warn her the first time my mother & grandmother wanted to take a look at her work -- the first thing they did was flip it over. Along
  • but as a private entity, they can (morally, maybe not legally) discriminate for any reason that they want.

    A simple litmus test to see if an action is *ist is to imagine the response if an arbitrary decision was reveresed. Would people be mad if Gnome was hiring only men for a position?
    • by 246o1 (914193) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:40PM (#15545984)
      You have to remember that they are hiring women-only because everyone else is male. If there were 180 (or however many) women here and they tried to bring in some men, I think almost everyone would find it acceptable.

      I think it's generally better to maintain some sort of gender balance than not to do so, just like I think it's better to support some sort of income/economic equality rather than having landed gentry with inherited fortunes and serfs. Of course, taking away some priveleges from the lords in my theoretical situation would be "classist," in a sense, but it would also be "good."
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:16PM (#15546163)
        I don't like these gender balances because they tend to have tunnel vision. We are greatly rewarding mediocre women in engineering fields due to their low numbers, but we aren't doing the same for men in other fields.

        How many men get special seats in programs for nursing, education, etc., where the field is dominated by women? In fact, of the people who get college degrees, only 43% are men. Why doesn't this get the same attention that the lack of women in science and engineering gets?

        All that we can accomplish by trying to perform gender balances is to promote mediocracy from the minority gender.
        • by TheSpoom (715771) *
          You would get some mod points if I had them, alas, they expired yesterday. Very insightful post.
        • by servognome (738846) on Friday June 16, 2006 @02:17AM (#15546808)
          I don't like these gender balances because they tend to have tunnel vision. We are greatly rewarding mediocre women in engineering fields due to their low numbers, but we aren't doing the same for men in other fields.

          The tunnel vision is the ignorance of social stigma and associated fear. Typically such programs don't reward mediocre candidates, they identify talented candidates and try to recruit them. For example a colleague of mine was originally working to become a veterinarian (a job more socially accomodating to women), but was recruited into ChemE (and had a 4.0 GPA). She was not a mediocre candidate, what she was looking for was an environment with social support, and encouragement.

          How many men get special seats in programs for nursing, education, etc., where the field is dominated by women? In fact, of the people who get college degrees, only 43% are men. Why doesn't this get the same attention that the lack of women in science and engineering gets?

          As others have pointed out there are similar programs for the recruitment of men into traditional female occupations such as nursing.

        • by node 3 (115640)

          All that we can accomplish by trying to perform gender balances is to promote mediocracy from the minority gender.

          Ignorant nonsense, but a common defense of the status quo.

          Do you truly think that attempts at gender equality can only accomplish the promotion of mediocrity (I think you meant mediocrity, not mediocracy, although in either case my response is the same), and nothing else whatsoever?

          Are you certain that:

          • Currently, women's positions in the field accurately matches their skills and qualifications?
        • "How many men get special seats in programs for nursing, education, etc., where the field is dominated by women? In fact, of the people who get college degrees, only 43% are men. Why doesn't this get the same attention that the lack of women in science and engineering gets?"

          The University of Washington was considering incentives to draw more men into teaching recently - last year or the year before that - but withdrew the plan when certain groups protested the idea.

          It is left as an exercise for the reader t
        • In Australia last year a proposal was put forward by a privately funded trust to offer six scholarships to men who would be willing to become primary school teachers in an effort to address the well known and widely acknowledged gender imbalance in schools.

          Predictably, the feminazis kicked up a storm declaring it to be all manner of evil and sexist until a compromise was reached. The organisation was forced to offer half the scholarships to women.

          Yes that is right, a program that was intended to increase th
  • by a_greer2005 (863926) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:13PM (#15545838)
    because Linux users dont have girlfriends!

    (ducks)

  • "Any disparity of gender, of any kind, that works against women, is enough evidence of sexism to get sued onto the street." So, in short, neither. They're just covering their asses.
    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:35PM (#15545955) Homepage Journal
      "Any disparity of gender, of any kind, that works against women, is enough evidence of sexism to get sued onto the street." So, in short, neither. They're just covering their asses."

      This may be true, but sometimes a project can benefit from another angle. Gnome really seems like its trying to be the desktop top that is accessible to everyone. By having women participate, there is a possibility that they will bring in ideas that male centric project would not have had. The truth is though, many of the female developers I know about tend to be just as shy as your average male coder.
  • ... then they just aren't. What's the big deal? If women largely aren't interested in programming, then they simply aren't. It's not like you can't write software without a balanced group of men and women.
    • by Jane_Dozey (759010) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:33PM (#15545942)
      Unfortunatly a lot of women arn't interested in programming (although, in this specific case I think it's more to do with women not being interested enough in programming for any Gnome stuff than just not being there).

      In my entire CS degree course I appear to be the only female student who will happily do a coding project on her own time. It feels like a real shame. The girls just don't seem to realise that it can be fun to sit down and scratch an itch once in a while.

      Rather than offering plain old money to get more girls interested, maybe Gnome should be thinking of more interesting problems for us to get going on and saying "hey look! This isn't all that mundane or time consuming AND you earn money for it!". Once they get a few girls working on various bits of Gnome it'll be easier to keep them doing jobs.
  • Why not both? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dustwun (662589)
    Is this sponsorship a creative way to get women interested in GNOME, or is it merely sexist?

    Are these two mutually exclusive for a reason? Just because it's creative doesn't mean its not sexist, and vice versa. /I'm sure we've all witnessed some truly creative sexist behavior in our lives. Hell it was probably 10% of college.

    To be fair, college was far more sexist, but far less creative in execution....
  • hmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by QAChaos (793637) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:24PM (#15545902) Homepage Journal
    I play a 16 year old girl on irc - does that count?
  • Big Deal (Score:4, Funny)

    by mgabrys_sf (951552) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:28PM (#15545922) Journal
    I reach out to women all the time.

    It's them letting me touch them that's the hard part.
  • When I was an undergrad majoring in Mechanical Engineering, there never were more than 2 women in a class of ~30 men, and usually the two women were from overseas. Yet in high school, about half of the class in AP calculus were women. Could a lot of the women in my high school AP calc class do Mechanical Engineering? Sure. Were they interested? Hell no. That self-selection is a big part of the equation, but there's still sexism--I knew one woman who was discouraged from taking calculus in highschool b
    • Right. I'm sure that there are occupations that are largely filled by women, not because men are incapable, but because, for whatever reason, men usually aren't interested. (How many junior high guys start a babysitting business, for example? The number might not be zero, but I'm sure it pales in comparison to the number of girls.)

      Would it be good to have more women in science? Sure, if they're interested in doing it. If they aren't interested, then no, actually, it wouldn't be good. They should do wh
  • It's just the outreach guys' way of trying to get to know a few good women.
  • The Edge Debate (Score:3, Informative)

    by Quirk (36086) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:41PM (#15545989) Homepage Journal
    THE SCIENCE OF GENDER AND SCIENCE [edge.org]

    PINKER VS. SPELKE

    A DEBATE

    The above debate hosted at Edge is now a bit dated but it does a good job of looking at gender and science. Our patriarchical history in the west has given us science as envisioned by men like Sir Francis Bacon [wikipedia.org]. It led to a reductionist deterministic heritage that we've only recently begun to break free of. Women in general in the west are only a century or more free of being chattles to be disposed of by their fathers. I hope we'll see women bring to science a different mind set and new insights.

    just my loose change

  • Who cares? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Monkelectric (546685)
    Equality is the *OPPORTUNITY* to do everything a man does, not the necessity of doing it. Women are able to enter CS and the contest with no discrimination, therefore, there is equality. When I got a CS degree there were *VERY* few women, and I think all but one in my class dropped out (this is at a college with a 30% graduation rate though).

    I have *NEVER* met a male nursing student, and I know quite a few nursing students. Nobody gives a crap about that?

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by russellh (547685)

      Opportunity is complex. We're not a bunch of individuals, we're members of different overlapping social groups. We need peer acceptance. If none of our groups include anything having to do with science, we won't or can't consider it. In other words, we don't have the opportunity. Very few people strike out on their own; nobody is self-made. Everyone needs a support network. It takes a village to raise a child, etc. Reaching out across the gap like this is a good thing, it creates this opportunity that the

      • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rolfwind (528248)

        In other words, we don't have the opportunity. Very few people strike out on their own...

        So let me get this straight: because certain people aren't willing to take initiative, they don't have an opportunity?

        I think you need to read the definition of opportunity. Otherwise you doom the problem to being completely circular in this way:

        Step 1: Not enough women in the sciences.
        Step 2: Solution: Do something to attract more women to the sciences.
        Step 3: Women don't want to go into the sciences because there

    • Re:Who cares? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:41PM (#15546285)
      I have *NEVER* met a male nursing student, and I know quite a few nursing students. Nobody gives a crap about that?

      Actually, there's lots of stuff being done by nursing schools to bring in male students. Partly to address the nursing shortage, and partly to achieve gender equity (or at least get closer to it) just for the sake of doing it.

      For one of my classes last semester, we were supposed to pick an area where there was a huge imbalance in gender representation and explore the causes. I picked nursing, interviewed 100+ male nurses and nursing students and asked them why they picked the field, what issues they ran into etc. - almost all of them pointed out that it was so *incredibly* dominated by women that they felt uncomfortable in the environment. Further, many expressed concerns that they'd be percieved as less masculine by those outside their profession - basically "People will think I'm gay!" By the time I'd finished my report, several of the male students hd dropped out of their programs.

      For women in technology (of which I used to be one before I went back to school to study psychology), a huge issue is the "swinging dick" factor. Women and men tend to have different priorites and needs in order to be happy in a workplace - one of the big ones for many women is the social sphere. I know that, for me, the deciding factor was that I wound up feeling as if I was spending a third of my life around people I didn't particularly like, didn't find to be particularly able to have small-talk with, and generally just left me feeling pretty cut-off from the world.

      (And, for anyone who says "Work is about work, not socialization, silly female!" let me just say: Men tend to also have certain needs from a workplace that seem just as silly - that whole alpha monkey/competitive thing is pretty goddamn funny and sad. Isn't work supposed to be about work, not establishing who's dick is bigger?)

      Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that yeah - women and men DO have (in the US, at least) the same theoretical access to whatever workplaces (with some exceptions) - but that doesn't mean that in practical terms a given professional space will be equally hospitable to both genders. Guys don't do "girl" jobs because they're afraid they'll look gay, gals don't do "boy" jobs because they they'll wind up in testosterone central. That kind of atmosphere presents a barrier to opportunity that a lot of people don't really see until they run right into it. So, from my point of view, a plan to address some of that stuff would be a good thing, regardless of the industry.
      • by rtaylor (70602) on Friday June 16, 2006 @01:49AM (#15546739) Homepage
        Actually, there's lots of stuff being done by nursing schools to bring in male students. Partly to address the nursing shortage, and partly to achieve gender equity (or at least get closer to it) just for the sake of doing it.
        And the real reason, more staff capable of moving fat patients. As the general population gets larger, so must the carrying capacity of the average nurse.
        • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by caladein (969989)
          And the real reason, more staff capable of moving fat patients. As the general population gets larger, so must the carrying capacity of the average nurse.

          ..and when this is brought up in firefighting (Male dominated field #862), there are cries of foul for requiring the same upper-body strength standards for all applicants.

          Fairness is indeed fun.
  • Seriously. Women? This is silly.

    Concentrate on writing a real Photoshop like program, a real video editing program on par with Avid, Final Cut, Premiere, or Vegas.

    Keep hacking at OpenOffice

    Get a 3D accelerated UI before Vista, and make it the standard gui.

    Make it easier to adopt linux period. Easier install methods, less dependency hell.

    Image is a good start, i agree with that but not just for women... try the Apple approach. Make it cool for all.

    The problem is Mac OS has REAL applications. Shake (linux ver
  • It looks like most of the comments so far are about whether or not its sexist.

    I think its more interesting to think about how things would be different if designed by women. I don't think they will be adopting the Slashdot April 1 theme, but to the other extreme, I'd imagine if that there was a 'Linux for Women' it would be different in many respects. So diversifying the gender of the developers might have a positive effect.

    Also, I would think that this would attract some fairly talented women. So maybe
  • Unique (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AndresCP (979913)
    Is GNOME Unique in its lack of female...popularity, for lack of a better word? I was under the impression that it was mainly because few girls major in computer science and the like; in that case, sponsorships don't make sense because it's part of a larger trend. Maybe, on the other hand, that's completely wrong, and the comp sci classes are FULL of girls, and they all hate GNOME. I doubt it, though. I would have seen these girls in class, probably.
  • by MrCawfee (13910) <mrcawfee @ y a h o o . com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:45PM (#15546015) Homepage
    Can you imagine how bad it would smell if 188 geeks were in the same place?

    Having a woman may convince 25% of them to take a shower.

    Sadly those 25% are going to be the ones who already have the ability to get a girl, and they'd smell the best in the first place.
  • Is it sexist? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:45PM (#15546017)
    Why does everything have to be balanced? Obviously there shouldn't be extra barriers for one sex over the other, but I have a problem with the attitude that all professions need an equal amount of each sex. Do men that go into nursing get a preference because there's more women than men? (An honest question). There seems to be this hypothesis that bias can be eliminated by giving the group that's not equally represented a preference. But we seem to ignore the idea that the hypothesis has never really been shown to be true. I guess I believe in equal opportunities and equal treatment, but I don't believe in more than equal.

    I've never been a big believer that bias can be cured by more bias. Affirmative action only leads to people thinking that a miss-represented group of people were only hired because of affirmative action. That kind of defeats the whole purpose. The article brings up issues like women not having same-sex role models. What I think the problem is that we feel the need to have to have a same sex role model. Why can't a Finnish woman look at Linus Torvalds as a role model? A woman from Finland probbably has more in common with him than me, a man born and raised in the US. If you ask me, that's the root of sexism. Trying to fix it with some patchwork of giving a few extra slots to women really won't do much of anything except maybe make some people at Gnome feel a bit better about themselves. If they want to do it, great, but don't try to tell me they're helping solve the problem, because they ain't.
    • Re:Is it sexist? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:19PM (#15546177)
      I've never been a big believer that bias can be cured by more bias.

      Simple fact: there are vastly more women and minorities in the workplace now than there were before affirmative action and forced equal access to education. It works. It's not flawless, and it's not a cure-all, but it has produced results.

      Affirmative action only leads to people thinking that a miss-represented group of people were only hired because of affirmative action.

      Who gives a shit? Those are the same people who didn't think women and minorities belonged in their workplace in the first place.

      Honestly, in a field so utterly dominated by men that a female software engineer is a bit of a rarity, you have to be pretty insecure to be bothered by the fact that one free software project wants to try to get a whopping three women involved. In any event, the odds are that your job and mine are both going to India long before they are threatened by any kind of domestic quota system.
      • Re:Is it sexist? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ThousandStars (556222)
        You're misrepresenting the GP in your reply. For example, you say, "there are vastly more women and minorities in the workplace now than there were before affirmative action and forced equal access to education," which is true -- but you're forgetting to include the civil rights movement, which doesn't equate with affirmative action. Equality of opportunity is of paramount importance, and equality of opportunity is what the civil rights movement sought.

        I think all people deserve an equal shot -- that doesn

      • Re:Is it sexist? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by r00t (33219)
        grandparent: Affirmative action only leads to people thinking that a miss-represented group of people were only hired because of affirmative action.

        parent: Who gives a shit? Those are the same people who didn't think women and minorities belonged in their workplace in the first place.

        Uh, NO.

        I find it really sad that I find myself doubting the competence of women and people who are neither white nor Asian. I'd love to believe that all people in a given profession are subject to the same selection crite

        • Include everyone (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Steeltoe (98226)
          It hurts to do this.

          It is important to have a clear view on the world, yes? Unless we risk going into roadblocks here and there, and feel sore and numb after a while ;)

          Using our mind can certainly help understanding and put things in perspective. However, too much of it, and we tend to get stuck in our own mind, instead of seeing things as they really are. With too much disturbing thoughts and emotions, we are only seeing our own mind, not the world around us.

          In the news, there is lots of statistics every w
      • Re:Is it sexist? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Vellmont (569020)

        Simple fact: there are vastly more women and minorities in the workplace now than there were before affirmative action and forced equal access to education. It works. It's not flawless, and it's not a cure-all, but it has produced results.


        Correlation never implies causation. You have absolutely no evidence that affirmative action has anything to do with more women and minorities in the workplace. The far more likely explanation is that the culture has changed (more women want to work) and there's just mor
    • Re:Is it sexist? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent...jan...goh@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:31PM (#15546234) Homepage
      The first programmer ever was a woman. How far we've come.

      Computing Science wasn't very popular back in the day; it wasn't a 'serious' subject. That meant it was okay for women to participate. As soon as it started to get more prestigious, fewer women were involved. Hmm. Fortunately, I think that particular reason has worn off over the years; popularity isn't the barrier that it used to be.

      I examined the dearth of female CS students at my University and talked to one of my professors. She had been keeping track of the numbers for years, and it turned out that while ALL sciences had seen increased enrolment -- including pure mathematics -- CS enrolment for women was down every year. It's not too hard or too technical or too 'science-y', so what's doing it? (I still don't know, incidentally -- I think it has something to do with the image of all CS majors as sweaty nerds with no lives and bad hygiene.)

      Lastly, it's worth noting that even in Nursing, things tend to favour the men. Based on Canada's census info (so this isn't a random sample, this is literally reporting for every working adult in Canada), men in nursing tend to make more money, even though it's a female dominated field. A good friend of mine is finishing off her Nursing degree, and she says that it's common to push men through into management positions as quickly as possible because, in part, patients are less comfortable around male nurses. Interesting that even when men are discriminated against, they come out on top. :P

      In the end, this isn't a competition. I concern myself with this stuff because I have a mother, a sister and a wife, and my best friend is a woman; I'd like to see them get ahead in the world. I hope to have daughters one day; it's my job to make sure that they get a fair shake when they go out into the world. The minor amounts of bias that we're seeing being built into the system (trying to get 3 women into an internship, or trying to guarantee that at least 10% of enrolled students are female) rarely actually impact any men in any significant way. We need to start somewhere. If you have a good idea or think you can do better, I honestly urge you to please try. Women have come a long way, but I'd really love to never have to read any more stories like this. 180 entries and no women? How sad is that?
      • Re:Is it sexist? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Hannah E. Davis (870669) on Friday June 16, 2006 @03:07AM (#15546943) Journal
        Re: your comments about nursing, I've read that the same is true among social workers. If a man wants to become a daycare worker, for example, he will face almost insurmountable discrimination -- in the minds of many, he will be branded as a pedophile. To keep him away from children, he will quickly be shunted into a management position, and from a feminist perspective, he may indeed "come out on top." But what if all he wants to do is work in a daycare and take care of children? That avenue is closed to him. In my opinion, a glass floor is just as bad as a glass ceiling if it keeps people from doing what they love.
    • Re:Is it sexist? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thesandtiger (819476) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:52PM (#15546325)
      Do men that go into nursing get a preference because there's more women than men? (An honest question).

      Emphatically, yes. Nursing programs are AVIDLY trying to recruit men.

      I posted an explanation of why this kind of equalizing isn't a bad thing - why what *looks* like a level playing field with open access to all is not, in fact, level nor open. I'll give the short version here: it's about the social environment.

      Many men don't go into nursing because they're afraid it will make them seem less manly. Many women don't go into tech because they're afraid they'll be in a socially/emotionally desolate nerdspace. If things can be done to reduce the social anxiety that is keeping people away from jobs they'd otherwise be highly capable of doing, then that's a good thing.

      And to anyone who'd say "If they can't overcome a little anxiety, fuck 'em, we don't want 'em and they obviously don't want it enough!" - it isn't a *little* anxiety - it's a LOT. For anyone who disagrees, I suggest they go do something that is usually very at odds with their typical gender roles and see just how "little" anxiety they feel. The "If they can't hack it" line tends to come from people who are fortunate enough to have their interests and the social spheres line up well enough.
  • Oh I get it (Score:5, Funny)

    by teslatug (543527) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:49PM (#15546040)
    They'll get some girls to pose for the wallpapers right :)
  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:51PM (#15546053) Homepage
    Of course it's sexist, it's a discrimination based on sex, isn't it?

    What it clearly isn't, is supremacist.

    Racism and sexism and all these other discriminations are perfectly acceptable, and even commendable in many cases, such as this one.

    The problems these kinds of integration efforts solve are:
    • Combatting against supremacism.
    • Adjusting the comfort & role-model & mentoring loop.

  • Not Sexist. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stephen Samuel (106962) <samuelNO@SPAMbcgreen.com> on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:55PM (#15546073) Homepage Journal
    Women sometimes think and work a bit differently than men do, so getting a woman's input into how things work is useful to promoting World Dominance (tm) for Linux. If they had 50% (or even 30%) participation by women, then I'd say they were being sexist, but at 0% there's a real, practical value to getting at least some input from the fairer sex.

    There would also be some real practical value to figuring out why (structurally speaking) there is so little female participation.

  • by kitanai (966388) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @10:56PM (#15546077)
    I'm a woman in IT. I'm a developer. And I think it's sexist. If I were in the USA, I might have applied, however i'm not, i'm in New Zealand.

    Regardless, programs like this miss the point entirely. The main problem is not a lack of female applicants, its the lack of women in IT. This does not stem from a lack of funding or information - we all have access to the internet.

    It stems from the basic belief that computers are a mans domain, and that even if a woman is a programmer extra-curricular activities concerning programming is taking it too far. The solution to this problem is to change peoples attitude toward technology-related sciences, not to throw money at it.

    When I first showed interest in computers as a child, it was frowned upon by most of my family in a big way. Change it there, and there will be more openly geeky girl IT grads that will participate in the community without the need for extra money being thrown at them.
  • Irony (Score:4, Funny)

    by zandermander (563602) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:08PM (#15546135)
    Does anyone else see irony in an article where there is an apparent attempt to bring more women into the OSS community being tagged "Gnome, Chicks, Women"?
    Oh, wait - I just reloaded the page and the "Chicks" tag is now gone!
    Guess that means I'm not the only one who noticed...
  • Women (Score:3, Informative)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday June 15, 2006 @11:52PM (#15546331)
    Most any science department will tell you that the amount of interest and involvement of women pales next to men of similar age and background.


    There's nothing like an outdated stereotype... (from U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, via here)

    Women earning bachelor's degrees by field:

    Women received the majority of the degrees in 1996 in the following fields:

    .
    .
    .
    Biological sciences/life sciences 52.7 percent
    .
    .
    .
    Health sciences, 81.6 percent
    .
    .
    .

    The largest percent increases seen in the bachelor's degrees women earned between 1971 to 1996 were in the following fields:

    Agriculture and natural resources, 4.2 percent to 36.8 percent
    .
    .
    .
    Biological sciences/life sciences, 29.1 percent to 52.7 percent
    .
    .
    .
    Computer and information sciences, 13.6 percent to 27.5 percent
    Engineering, .8 percent to 16.1 percent
    .
    .
    .
    Physical sciences, 13.8 percent to 36 percent
    Psychology, 44.4 percent to 73 percent


    Is this sponsorship a creative way to get women interested in GNOME, or is it merely sexist?


    I would say the former. When you get a women far less interested than their representation in the field, its an indication that its quite likely that your existing visibility is skewed, and that you are missing exposure to a substantial portion of the talent pool.
  • by binarybum (468664) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:12AM (#15546412) Homepage
    What they really should have done to garner support is a swimsuit calendar featuring women coders.

      Just kidding! hahahah.

      what they really should do is a swimsuit calendar with gorgeous models pretending to be women coders!

    If I've offended female /.'s, I'm sorry to both of you; it was a utilitarian jab I felt worth taking.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Friday June 16, 2006 @12:53AM (#15546581)
    Most any science department will tell you that the amount of interest and involvement of women pales next to men of similar age and background. Is this sponsorship a creative way to get women interested in GNOME, or is it merely sexist?

    As even the most basic scholar of Disney can tell you, there's almost always a ratio of one woman to every seven gnomes.

    Of course, Smurfologists would argue the situation's even worse. No wonder the little buggers are blue.
  • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Friday June 16, 2006 @02:15AM (#15546805)
    It's time to stop pretending that there are wonderful abstract principles at stake when people try programs like this: it's a bit like passionate cries of 'racist!' every time anyone attempts to do anything to rectify the grossly asymmetrical situation of many U.S. born blacks. Computing has been a quite sexist discipline for many years, even if the situation has changed for the better recently. As a result, there's a pretty steep shortage of senior women in most CS faculties that I've ever seen.

    As a undergraduate, in 1990-1993, in addition to hearing tales of acts of substantial sexual harassment that went largely unpunished, I also got to see first hand a lot of horny nerds 'helping' the women in their classes by basically attempting to do all their work for them, as well as a few tutors spending an inordinate amount of time trying to score with students rather than teach them. While the situation has improved, the environment of 10 years ago influences the current supply of women with (for example) 12 years of experience.

    So can the 'sexist' talk. Go read Stanley Fish's 'The Trouble With Principle' and see if you can still keep a straight face while pushing your abstract principles...

    Personally, I suspect that the absence of women from projects like GNOME represents good sense, more than anything else. I have met many incredibly intelligent, hardworking and successful women in serious academic 'systems' research (there seem to be a number in compiler research, for some reason), but far fewer in the sort of hobbyist open source sphere. Perhaps they prefer to be formally recognized and paid properly - if you felt that there was the prospect of lingering sexism in a field, one might prefer a area where there's a solid audit trail for success (e.g. 'why did you hire a man with half the number of first-rate publications as me?') as opposed to the rather nebulous world of success in the open source world (e.g. 'I wonder why other developers didn't flock to my project?').

  • by edmicman (830206) on Friday June 16, 2006 @07:26AM (#15547536) Homepage Journal
    Male or female, geeks and nerds will be geeks and nerds. I think they need to bring in real outsiders to the project. Get some insight on what Joe Sixpack wants, or grab a panel of Mac users and ask them how GNOME should be. Things will never work if they're only designed by engineers, male OR female.
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday June 16, 2006 @02:06PM (#15550166) Homepage Journal

    ...the people who gain the most won't be the women who get the jobs. It's the people who work with them.

    We discussed this at length in a class I had at college a while back, it was supposed to be an english class but it mostly ended up being a bunch of us debating "the issues". Our general conclusion was that the people who have people affirmatively stuffed into a job position (or class, or...) are the ones who benefit the most because they're exposed to people that they normally wouldn't encounter. This is most significant in school, before people become habitual bigots.

    Forcibly (heh) putting women into technical jobs will benefit them, yes, but they will benefit the rest of us more, not least because actually being in the presence of the opposite gender occasionally is helpful to one's chances of pairing up with one :)

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