Where do women stand in the Linux community?

I was wondering recently if women like Linux, know about it and use it? Are they active in Linux promotion?

In short: Yes! And it felt good to see that Linux is just not a man’s toy pushed on women by their despotic husbands because that’s the way they want it at home.

It feels good also to see that the mainly masculine Linux community support Women in using Linux and in the community.

For starters, there’s the Ubuntu Women forum on ubuntu forums.
There, women will find resources on how to get more active in the linux community as a women.

There’s also Linuxchix, a community of internation linux active women 🙂 I love the name.
Their goals are here.

Finally, last but not least, Canonical’s CEO, the company developing Ubuntu is a woman 🙂

Jane Silber

I feel compelled to thank every women merely using Linux or actively promoting it for making Linux and our community incredibly more sexy. There’s a touch to the way women do things that man simply won’t be able to reproduce.


Filed under Linux

26 responses to “Where do women stand in the Linux community?

  1. You were doing great right up until “for making Linux and our community incredibly more sexy.”

    We’re not here to make it more sexy. We’re here for the software and the community. Really, many of us would prefer if sexiness was mentioned a lot LESS often. It’s completely unrelated to the goal of creating great software. It’s a distraction. And it often makes us very uncomfortable because we’re being seen for our looks instead of our minds, when our minds are what counts in the world of software development.

  2. Robin

    Wow. You can’t even say “thank you” or express appreciation without getting some negative comment. “Sexy” isn’t a bad word, nor does it refer – in the sense that the author used in here – to anything having to do with biology. Lighten up, ladies, the guy’s just trying to say, “We’re glad you’re here.”

    And women wonder why men don’t say anything.

    It’s because “anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of feminine hypersensitivity.”

    • I’ve yet to hear anyone tell a guy that he’s doing a great job by complimenting him on his appearance, because appearance is *irrelevant*. Why should that not be the case for women?

      Get over your privilege.

      • Lackbono

        Yeah, he’s still not referring to appearance. No one on this entire page did.

        Get over your fallacies.

  3. Pingback: Dear Geekdoms: We’re not your decoration | Geek Feminism Blog

  4. Hi everyone.

    I’m really happy to see this post having some feedback. Both negative and positive.

    Mackenzie has a point. Woman should be respected for their mind and not their feminine presence…. In a perfect world.

    Sadly the open souce is really not a world where there’s a lot of women. And when men tries to compliment a woman, yes it boils down to biology.
    It’s a fact that some women accept readily and some others don’t.

    And no one will ever change it because it’s wired in Man’s brain. We can’t think of something unsexy like brains, great apps or something like that. we won’t come to a woman and say. Wow Jenny. You’ve really done a great app! Why? Well simply because most likely it’s not the kind of remark that will make us, Man, noticed to her.

    Yes, yes it’s all about that even when complimenting casually to a group of great women doing great things in the Open Community whom I have no idea who they are!

    What that sentence is? A translation problem from Man language to Woman language. I’m really sorry about that though. I hope you accept my clumsy attempt for an explanation.

    By the way,my wife loved it and I got a kiss for the “sexy” remark.

    • Let me get this right — men can create amazing works of art, build empires, compose symphonies, cure disease, and send people to the moon, but they can’t think of anything to say to women except “nice tits”.

      I get really, really tired of being told that I’m naught but a sack of biological goo being dragged about by my id. Maybe you find that the best explanation for how your mind works, but it’s the height of presumption for you to paint all men everywhere with that same brush. This hormonal propensity hogwash doesn’t excuse anything — guys are perfectly capable of controlling their behaviour if they so choose.

    • La Petite

      Nicolas, I can see that you have good intentions, and I’m glad that you welcome the presence of women in the Linux community. You need to understand, though, that there is a world of difference between calling your wife “sexy” and proclaiming that the Linux community benefits from women because they make it more “sexy.”

      Speaking for myself, I would love it if somebody said to me, “You’ve really done a great app!” I would be offended if my work was ignored at the expense of my physical appearance. Imagine yourself completing a difficult project and then being complimented because you’re “handsome,” not because of the hard work you did on it. In other circumstances (such as it coming from your wife), you might appreciate the handsome compliment, but in the case of your work, it’s completely misdirected.

  5. You know what influence maintains the /perception/ that Open Source can’t change? People like you who protest against Open Source changing because dang, it’d be an awful inconvenience to have to notice a woman’s achievement rather than her boobs.

    I fail to understand how your comment about “sexy” getting a favoured response from your /intimate partner/ has do to with this. If anything, it sounds like you’re implying that we should follow suit and pucker up to you. Eww. I’m not your intimate partner, Mackenzie is not your intimate partner, Women in Open Source are not your intimate partners. We’re not going to rock up and kiss you for an inappropriate comment, for crying out loud.

  6. You seem angry for men to be men at large Melissa.

    You seek only bashing and no discussions.

    Your arguments close the subject in an entranched women against men discussion.

    I think it’s pointless to interact with you.

    • You don’t give men enough credit. I’m dating a lovely fellow who made no comments related to my appearance til the second or third date. All compliments prior to that were related to my technical skills or taste in scifi.

      • James

        Just because he didn’t say it, doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking it. Otherwise I doubt you would have got to the third date on brains alone.

        It’s maybe terrible to think it but appearance does matter, and if you looked like an aardvark or a brain-in-a-bucket, I doubt that the first date would have happened.

        If you have brains and looks, then good for you. You’ve hit the jackpot.

        That’s neither good nor bad; it’s just the way our brains seem to be wired.

  7. You went and made a comment on geekfeminism.org that in part said “Men are designed to kill”. No, I’m not angry at you for all men, I’m angry at you.

  8. Would you mind developing the reasons a bit then?

    I honestly don’t understand the angriness. Call me thick if you wish but I need a bit more.

    I am not trying to kill the thread or feminism! I’m trying acknowledge and show that it exists.

    It seems I’m doing a terrible work considering your reaction. So please go ahead and develop it here.

  9. Also, you focus focus on one part of a rather long comment without expressing your opinion on the subject that we both have at heart here: How do men treat women in the Open Source Environment?

    Would you disagree with everything else I say? Isn’t right or good that women do come to the Open Source as women with a woman attitude?

  10. What development could a sensible person possibly need from:
    * You insist that men are incapable of noticing women’s work because women have boobs, without considering that there are /many/ other men who /regularly/ notice women for their work.
    * You insist on noting that your wife kissed you (for what she must have taken as an indirect comment about her personally) to people who’ve just pointed out that you’re not their intimate partner in a manner that implies that it was how said people should have reacted.
    * You then go and comment on the GF blog with “Men are designed to kill”

    Lets lay it straight:
    * Implying that men cannot see women’s achievements because boobs are too distracting is outright insulting to most men.
    * Your wife’s reaction is completely irrelevant to any part of Mackenzie or my reactions. There’s no need for you to mention it
    * You brought up the topic of killing. Exactly /how/ did you hope that was going to be taken by a group of women who regularly cop death threats from folks like mikeeusa?

  11. All right.

    I think we come from 2 very different societies.
    I didn’t even know there was death threats on women as a hobby.

    * Implying that men cannot see women’s achievements because boobs are too distracting is outright insulting to most men.
    Nope: I say that men do see women’s achievement. Only they express it hmmm poorly.

    Everything else you are probably right.

    I was coming with good intentions on this post.

    The reaction to this article is very emotional and carries a lot of grief from past experience. I had no idea I could stir such a reaction.

    i think that for women to be accepted in a manly society like the Open Souce Community, there is a need for better understanding. I feel unconfortable with the way you girls put it. It seems to be a 100% men problem.

    It’s 50/50 though. You will need to re-think your reactions to such comment because even though the delively suck, you have to realize it comes with good intentions.

    The allusion to men is designed to kill is not from me, it’s from Guy Kawasaki. A smart venture capitalist who once said: Show your project to a woman. They have a different view because men are designed to kill.

    It’s in that respect that I said so. The only place in society where killing is allowed legally is in the business world. You can destroy a company with a better product and nobody will say it’s wrong. It’s a bit out of subject but that’s where I come from on this kill thing.

    • Robert

      Nope: I say that men do see women’s achievement. Only they express it hmmm poorly.

      You may do that, and some other men may do that, but there are rather a lot of us that are capable of saying “That kernel patch was well-written, thanks :)” instead of “You make the kernel sexy.”. Those of us with this ability would appreciate it if you didn’t generalize the inabilities of a few into a general “this is a problem for men!” statement.

      It seems to be a 100% men problem. It’s 50/50 though. You will need to re-think your reactions to such comment because even though the delively suck, you have to realize it comes with good intentions.

      It’s really not. If you’re incapable of commenting on someone’s achievements instead of how they look, this is a problem with you, not the people you’re talking about. It’s not like you just used language vaguely in a way that could be interpreted two ways; “I feel compelled to thank every women merely using Linux or actively promoting it for making Linux and our community incredibly more sexy.” is a simple concept with one interpretation that it is perfectly reasonable for women to be offended about.

      Show your project to a woman. They have a different view because men are designed to kill.

      We’re also designed to get around by swinging from trees, and to eat rather a lot of fruit. Last I checked, neither was not common practice among myself or other men I know. Thankfully, modern homo sapiens is far, far more than the sum of its parts, and falling back on evolutionary history to explain socially-inacceptable behavior holds little water.

      It’s in that respect that I said so. The only place in society where killing is allowed legally is in the business world.

      That may have been how you meant it, but the primary and most obvious meaning of “kill” is one person killing another, and it’s not at all surprising that that’s how other people (including, incidentally, me) took it.

  12. All right everyone.

    Obviously the package is much more important than the intentions.

    I will make sure to be extra careful to address women with no allusions whatsoever to their feminity and consider only the work they perform.

    It’s a good life lesson.

    Feel free to keep posting your comments and thought on this wall.

    • Your problem here is that you’re trying desperately to show valid reasoning for what was a mistake. It was a mistake, fine, we realise this. Don’t go trying to say “It was a mistake but I was right to make it because…” — you’ll only keep falling over.

  13. Well I felt a bit hurt because I don’t think I’m a bad guy and I was really trying to show case woman and I think I did a good job all the way until… I did that one mistake at then end of the post and it turns into a huge blog post on your blog.

    I thought it was a bit unfair and I tried to defend it clumsily indeed.

    So, sorry if I’ve hurt women’s feeling. It’s totally unintended. I was trying to say something witty.

    • I realise the blog post only mentions this post explicitly, but it’s part of a larger thing.

      There was a similar “making Ubuntu sexy” blog post made when Ubuntu got its first female developer, but it was a couple years ago and Melissa didn’t think that woman would like attention brought back to it.

      I made a blog post a couple months ago quoting an email I received that was, well… tl;dr version: “wow, I had no idea hot chicks could use computers!” and saying it was totally not appropriate. Some never-made-it-past-moderation comments on there were of the “oh come on, it’s a compliment!” variety.

  14. Ok. I see where you’re coming from. Basically the unsaid story here is that people would think generally that women are either good looking and don’t know how to use computer or not good looking and know how to use computer.

    The comment you mention above is part of those. I can see how my mention of “sexy” can be interpreted in a bad light easily. These are not easy things to hear and certainly not fun when you spend most of your time as a woman in said community.

    It’s a tough ride. Things are not going to change quickly in that respect.

    It will improve drastically as more women get involved in the community and break the myth.

    So keep working at it. Next time I mention the great job that you guys do, I will make sure to convey the information with a regard only to the quality of the job performed.

    I made a post on ubuntuforums.org asking why ubuntu women was hidden in the 3rd party projects. I thought I made a good point. Making women more visible in the community. I went to bed and the next morning I checked the thread, it was closed with bitter discussions. The moderator simply said: “That is why this forum is in the 3rd party projects section.”

    I was very disappointed by my fellow men. A long way to go. Robert up in the comment is part of a minority of people. I don’t deny their existence.(I’m not even sure I can put myself in that group considering the exchange here)

    It’s still a super passionate subject.

  15. Hmmm. I don’t want to start another polemic. I’m just saying that more women will simply stop men (most of them but nor all) making an opinion based on look.

    I feel very goofy. There’s no right way to put it isn’t it.
    Is it possible to talk about this subject without hitting the nerve?

    It reminds me of Thailand, where I live. They have a constitution and monarchy. The whole system is starting to fail simply because the king who had a moderator influence on the government will die soon.
    The only problem is that there’s a lese majesty law that puts you to prison for years if you dare questioning the monarchy and its interaction in political life.

    I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.

  16. I think you guys took that way too litterally.

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