[UbuntuWomen] UW article for Fullcircle mag

Elizabeth Bevilacqua lyz at ubuntu.com
Sat Jan 12 15:44:35 UTC 2008

On 1/12/08, Vid Ayer <svaksha at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Jan 12, 2008 7:54 PM, Elizabeth Bevilacqua <lyz at ubuntu.com> wrote:
> >
> > It's not non-existent. One of the biggest criticisms of the Ubuntu
> > Women project is that we segregate. This is why we dropped our
> > separate courses program and joined Ubuntu Classroom.
> Nope, its not dropped, it was never promoted well. Finding willing
> mentors was also an issue.

Yes it is. We've discussed this on list and the wiki was updated
several months ago. We have stopped the Courses program and now are
focusing our efforts on Classroom.

This happened after sharp criticism of our team for duplicating the
effort of the Classroom project.

> > Why do women need a special place to be technical? I'm just as
> > competent as my male counterparts, I learn the same way, I want to be
> > treated the same way. I don't NEED a separate space to be technical
> > in, none of us do.
> Repeating my earlier mail, ...
> "Which is where there is a lot of confusion and mis-understanding of
> what UW is all about. If being a part of project UW is segregation by
> gender, by that logic almost every Ubuntu loco team is segregation on
> the basis of country, and other project teams (art, technical, motu,
> etc...) segregated on the basis of specialization. That can be deemed
> unfair in the larger Free Software philosophy which (to summarize in a
> single word) is all about being "inclusive"."

I don't agree that Ubuntu Women can be compared to LoCo teams or other
specialized teams, the aims are too different. Ubuntu Women is
targeting half the planet's population to do everything in Ubuntu. Not
focusing on packaging or artwork or localization.

> > If we keep saying Ubuntu Women should be technical then the message
> > we're sending is that we are different and we need special treatment.
> > I thought this was the attitude we were trying to fight.
> None here asked for special treatment. Discussing technical,
> development or mentoring issues does not automatically mean we are
> special or asked for special privs because we discussed it in UW
> lists.

The key word you use here is "Issues" - yes, we can discuss
"technical, development or mentoring ISSUES" but when we become a
duplicate of the help channels, the motu channels, etc targeted at
just women it becomes separatist. Can't we just encourage women new to
the project to join us in the main #ubuntu channels? Upping our
presence in the general Ubuntu community is how we get things to

> > I thought we wanted to increase the number of women in the general
> > Ubuntu community? How does segregating female technical stuff within
> > Ubuntu Women help that? It doesn't. It hurts us.
> Sorry then you mis-understood what UW was all about in the first
> place. Please see the main page of www.ubuntu-women.org, and the
> message is very clear from the day i founded it more than two years
> ago.... UW has always been modelled along DW (debian-women).
> To /quote:
> We aim to provide an opportunity for women who want to be involved in
> the Ubuntu community thereby increasing the diversity in Ubuntu-Linux
> by :
>     * Encouraging women to participate, for example, to learn to
> create new FLOSS software (or revamp existing software), not only to
> use GNU/Linux software, but to integrate backwards and learn more
> about it.
>     * Mentoring women in specific areas (such as technical,
> documentation, translation and communication) so they have the
> information and support necessary to take these new steps, to get
> through barriers or difficulties, and to keep learning and growing in
> the Ubuntu-Linux world.
>     * Providing opportunities by sponsoring women who wish to give
> technical presentations, or talk about their Ubuntu experience at
> International conferences and seminars.
>     * Organising hack-fests, bar camps for women at Linux conferences.
>     * Increasing the number of women using Ubuntu-Linux in a
> country-specific manner by providing a platform for talks at local
> universities, LUGs and schools, which will encourage others to join.
>     * Openly discussing issues facing women and their involvement in
> Ubuntu (and Linux) and how to address them.
> Programming is highly development-oriented and the vagaries of each
> distro makes it even more difficult in terms of identifying a problem
> in "X" application, and knowing how to 'fix' it. We hope to increase
> the diversity ratio by creating an atmosphere for women to communicate
> openly and ask technical questions without any fear of being flamed or
> ridiculed for asking so-called silly questions.
> /unquote

I agree with everything until the "technical questions" bit. I think
what we want to try to do is encourage *everyone* to ask questions in
the main mailing lists/forums/irc channels and be supportive when
these questions are asked.

My vision is changing Ubuntu as a whole, not creating a "safe" space
within Ubuntu Women. I don't think anyone should be ridiculed anywhere
for asking "so-called silly questions" - this isn't just a women's

> > Ubuntu Women SHOULD be about offering tips to survive in Ubuntu,
> > sharing experiences and hardships, encouraging and helping each other
> > to contribute to Ubuntu in general (via "horn tootin'" posts,
> > mentoring, and publicizing Classroom), approaching community leaders
> > when problems crop up, showcasing women within the Ubuntu project who
> > can be role models, and keeping each informed about upcoming events
> > that we might be interested in.
> wrong, see above. I repeat, UW is not an "agony/complaint centre for
> women issues in technology" so dont make it one. That is a huge
> disservice to the women who come here expecting more from us.

Then I am very mistaken as to what the goals of this project are, and
will start considering withdrawing my support for it.

> > Ubuntu Women SHOULD NOT be a girls club where we hide and do technical
> > stuff rather than joining the broader project.
> It never was, so dont make it one by removing the technical aspects
> especially when women are interested in it. That is discouraging to
> all of us.

I don't think you understood my statement.

What it sounds like is you believe Ubuntu Women should duplicate the
efforts of all the other projects within Ubuntu rather than working to
get women integrated with those existing projects. I think this is
damaging and not at all practical given the lack of success we've had
with major initiatives such as the Mentoring project.

> I dont recall women asking special privs because of their gender and
> when were men banned or asked not to join UW ?

It has nothing to do with not allowing men to contribute. Melissa and
I already explained this.

> Say if women use UW (lists, irc, forums) to discuss about packaging
> for Ubuntu, is that package not going back in to the distro? So how
> does that not count as contribution into the larger community

Because I thought our goal was to get more women contributing
directly, upping our presence in main channels, on main mailing lists,
on official forums, in loco teams. Not duplicating efforts by creating
things like what essentially feel like #ubuntu-women-motu and such.

> and why
> is it discounted because it was under the aegis of UW. If so that
> convoluted logic should be applied to all groups and teams, not just
> UW.

Other teams contribute directly to the main Ubuntu resources. For
example MOTU works with Ubuntu Classroom to hold classes rather than
having separate classes like UW used to.

Elizabeth Bevilacqua

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