[UbuntuWomen] Is it so strange for a woman to use linux?

Kathryn crunchyfroggie at gmail.com
Tue Mar 4 01:26:01 UTC 2008

I think this issue of "women and Linux" can actually be separated into
two issues:

(1) Encouraging women (and men) to become actively involved in
computing (if they aren't already)
(2) Encouraging women (and men) to embrace Linux and give it a go

In my opinion, addressing point (1) above will almost negate the
second.  Dell are now offering users an Ubuntu system with their
computer purchase, and apparently ASUS is heading in the same
direction.  It's just a matter of giving people a taste of Ubuntu, and
they'll discover that Linux is accessible, visually appealing and a
joy to use.  Women who are already inclined to more advanced computing
will easily make the switch to Linux, and Ubuntu now makes it possible
to introduce basic end-users (who simply browse the net, check email
and maybe print on their home wireless network).

I was given the opportunity to play with computers in an informal
sense from the age of about 8, and I had a natural willingness to
"fiddle" with all the computers I could get my hands on (although I
had a fairly strong sense of what my limits were, so I never created
any problems I couldn't undo).  I learn(ed) a lot from just exploring
every single detail of the operating systems (Windows 3.1 through to
Ubuntu).   If you can foster that sense of discovery in youngsters
(and adults who are keen to try something new), you've nearly won the

Among the few friends of mine who use Linux (we're mostly Biomedical
Science graduates who have gone on to further study - e.g. medicine,
PhD) it seems to be a matter of "Yoda & Luke" - everyone is brought
into the Linux movement by an experienced user who shows them the way.
 I was offered a taste of SuSE/KDE by a male friend a few years ago,
and I immediately loved using Linux but the user interface didn't
impress me and I found a few tasks pointlessly difficult (e.g.
unmounting a USB key).  I wasn't worried by use of command line, or
the various tweaks we had to make, but the standard of "daily
usability" wasn't there.  Ubuntu changed all of that, and now my
personal computers boot to Ubuntu by default... I reluctantly swap to
Windows for uni software that is Windows-only.

I don't believe it is *at all* strange for a woman to use Linux.  I'm
currently in the process of persuading my parents to ditch Windows and
use Ubuntu, since all they do is browse the net, check their gmail
accounts, and print via our wireless home network (I've configured
Ubuntu to play nicely with the network printer).  My dad is keen to
make the change, since he really hates the incessant popups and
interference from the over-vigilant anti-virus/spyware/firewall that
Windows requires.  Dad also never felt "at home" with Windows, so I
guess he figures he won't lose anything by trying Linux.  My mum seems
to have built a mental hurdle for herself - "I've got the hang of
Windows, that's enough" - but I am sure that if I could only encourage
her to *try* it that she'd enjoy Ubuntu.

It's a matter of breaking down that mental barrier for women - and
men.  Crack that chestnut of a problem, and we're set. :-)

More information about the Ubuntu-Women mailing list