[Linux-aus] An Open Letter to the Open Source Community
paul at justinandpaul.com
Tue May 22 09:59:37 UTC 2007
Well said Melissa.
It would seem to me that the very highest standards of acceptance of
*all* diversity should be applied by the FOSS community, regardless of
the proportion of the population any particular group may represent.
In the FOSS world we encourage and respect diversity in the
participation of the user population and the contribution of technical
work... it is only natural we extend that same respect when interacting
with those participants.
Misandry is just as offensive as misogyny and should to be treated with
equal contempt. Oppression of sub-groups (whether minorities or not as
is the case for women) is often subtle and not recognised as such by the
oppressive dominant group. Hint: if you're a 6' tall white male in a
upper middle class socio-economic grouping you may have zero experience
of this, nor any understanding of it.
Any form of perjorative, inappropriate or demeaning behaviour based on
the gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, or socio-economic status
must be actively discouraged.
Thanks Melissa for reminding us all of the particular plight of women in
the FOSS world.
Melissa Draper wrote:
> Dear users, developers and other contributors of Open Source,
> I write this letter as a contributor of Ubuntu, and as a member of the
> Ubuntu Women project.
> As a Woman and an Open Source contributor, I see a number of behaviours
> within the Open Source community that are quite counterproductive to the
> community. Many of these behaviours often go unnoticed, and this is a shame.
> These counterproductive behaviours of which I write, may seem
> common-place to many people, and they may even be humorous to some.
> However these behaviours, to many women, are discriminatory, offensive
> and discouraging. Considering women represent approximately 50% of
> global population, which is approximately 3.35 billion people, these
> behaviours are not behaviours that a community that thrives on growth,
> should be allowing or encouraging. We should not be discouraging 50% of
> our potential users and contributors.
> Currently, according to FLOSSpols, in 2006, the average female
> representation in Open Source is 1.5%. This is compared to 28% female
> representation in the proprietary software industry. You can read the
> FLOSSpols report at
> You see, this is not merely a rant, there are real reasons for this
> letter. We are seriously lagging behind proprietary software, and many
> other industries, in the area of gender equality. We can do much better
> than that!
> There are a number of ways to curb the discouraging behaviours and all
> it takes is vigilance. One must be vigilant in their communications, and
> discourage or admonish bad behaviour. Unfortunately, there is no single
> demographic guilty of these behaviours, as they are not solely
> perpetrated by Men. Yes, you heard me correctly - some women are guilty
> also! This makes the task of vigilance ever so much harder, but for the
> sake of potentially doubling our community, it is well worth it!
> As a Woman and an Open Source contributor, I implore you. Do not make
> jokes about us, just because we are female. Do not belittle, stereotype
> or patronise us, based on our gender. Do not assume that we are using
> Open Source so that you can ask us questions of private nature, or out
> on a date. Most importantly, do not stand by and watch as other people
> do these things.
> This is a big thing I am asking of you, I know. But it is not only for
> me that I ask. It is for the 3 and a half billion mothers, daughters,
> sisters and friends that I share this earth with - that WE share this
> earth with. This is for everyone.
> This is for Open Source.
> I sincerely Thank You for reading this letter, and encourage you to pass
> it on.
> Melissa Draper
> Open Source advocate, and Ubuntu Member
> If you wish to support this letter, you can do so by responding on this
> list, or on my blog (http://www.geekosophical.net/?p=119). Additionally
> you can support it by digging the blog post
> or displaying a generic 'Say NO! to discriminiation' button
> (http://www.geekosophical.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/sayno.png) on
> your own websites or in signatures.
> Additionally, the letter may be republished, in part orin it's entirety.
> In republishing you may also replace my name and affiliations with your
> Thanks in advance.
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