[UbuntuWomen] UWN #51: "... and this even included some wives.."

Elizabeth Bevilacqua lyz at princessleia.com
Mon Aug 20 12:03:42 UTC 2007

On 8/20/07, Caroline Ford <caroline.ford.work at googlemail.com> wrote:
> Overwhelmingly hostile? I'm so glad I never get this in my other
> projects or I wouldn't bother. It's ironic that Ubuntu - the project
> with most women in its marketing materials is so hostile internally..

I have seen it all over the F/OSS world, but I think since Ubuntu is
such a big project it's more obvious.

> I'm very glad both my LUG (GLLUG) and the FLOSS project I contribute to
> (Tux Paint) are not like this. I have lots of projects I could
> contribute to - I see no point in contributing to the backwards ones.

My LUG was not always so welcoming, but I kept at it through the
support of friends within the LUG and now run a suburban chapter of it
where women regularly show up (3 out of the 13 that showed up last
month were women). If I didn't have friends within the LUG to begin
with I wouldn't have bothered going back. And it took me a while to
contribute to my first project because I felt so unwelcome in so many
places, even the one I did settle on had an IRC channel that needed
help when it came to women ("there aren't women here, they're just men
pretending!" "pleia2 you use linux, will you marry me?" "hey gentlemen
I need some help!" etc)

> Lyz- you said that Debian is better than Ubuntu in this regard- or is
> that me misremembering?

Miriam already confirmed this, but yes, through the work of Debian
Women, women are now treated equally over there.

Quick story about this - I just recently I began co-maintaining a
package with a developer who was also interested in the package. We
didn't know each other before the project and got pretty far into the
process when something came up that an actual Developer was needed
for, and I deferred to him, only to find out that he ASSUMED I was a
developer too. Maybe because I knew what I was doing? Whatever it was,
my gender didn't get in the way of him assuming I was technical, and
that felt so good.

> My experiences with lists have been negative. On launchpad-users both
> myself and Vid argued against the "use real names" policy as it means we
> have to out ourselves. They argued against us and claimed that we only
> get hassle if people are anonymous! Everyone who's ever hassled me has
> used their real name - and why not! There is no come-back, and you get
> to be one of the boys. The community bonds through its laddishness and
> its hostility to minorities.

That certainly is the trouble right now, there aren't many women on
lists because of how badly we're treated, but we probably won't be
treated better until we're more involved and present on the lists.
Hello Catch 22!

Part of what this project seeks to achieve is a safe place for women
to come back to when they encounter hostility in the community. We're
here to support each other, discuss the issues and take action when

Ubuntu is going through a rough spot with this were a lot of heated
blog entries and discussions are occurring. But this just means the
issue is out there, finally, and we're making progress, in spite of
how it feels. Many folks within the project are becoming educated to
the women in F/OSS problem through these discussions and presentations
by women like Melissa and Belinda and major Ubuntu events.

So things are tough right now, but I hope there are a few more brave
souls out there willing to stick their neck out and get involved with
Ubuntu and speak out while the issue is hot. Through my LoCo team and
the Ubuntu US team I've seen what a great project Ubuntu can be when
it's diverse and accepting.

> I think they want a male only space as an escape from their workplaces
> and wives. This is the equivalent of those all male trips to the pub of
> English working class history.

Perhaps some do, but I think it would be unfair to say that a lot of
them do. From what I've seen it's simple ignorance of the issue that
has most men in the project tied up. Many of the comments certainly
reflect this ignorance. In the teams I've worked with I've had several
men tell me that they simply didn't *see* the sexism going on until I
(or their other female friends) came along and pointed it out to them.
Once they saw it for what it was /most/ of them became sensitive and
supportive. Sometimes it just takes a few women as role models within
the community to change the minds of a few people and things will
start to shift.

> I'm copying this to Mark as he ought to know quite how bad it has
> become, if he hasn't picked it up. I know there is a belief that we
> don't involve "the authorities" as it will be counterproductive but I'm
> totally pissed off.

I understand that, and I don't see a problem with telling "the
authorities" when we feel things have gotten out of hand. My problem
is running to them and expecting some sort of action to be taken
against a specific offender/team/whatever. I don't believe
punishment-from-above works well in F/OSS for these sorts of things,
in most instances I've seen it just creates martyrs.

Elizabeth Bevilacqua

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