[Linux-aus] The Ada Initiative - Should Linux Aus etc
elliottbrennan at gmail.com
Wed Feb 23 16:18:15 EST 2011
> Neill Cox <neill at ingenious.com.au>
> Tue, 22 Feb 2011 16:14:42 +1100
>  Somehow it always seems to be men failing to
> notice :-)
Mate, I SHOULD have said it but didn't. I bow to
your erudite and succinct 'nail-on-headedness'.
To those who ask who thinks this is a problem: The
women who have been writing in this thread have
been saying "this is a problem". The issue itself
is an area of research:
A big 'Up' to James:
James Purser <jamesrpurser at gmail.com>
Tue, 22 Feb 2011 15:28:33 +1100
>This is a known problem, with a known solution.
The >problem of course is that the solution is
cultural change, >which as we all know is never
easy, fast or clean.
Especially for those whom a cultural bias benefits
and particularly when they see their dominance
There are some latent cultural views expressed in
this thread which are hidden by the 'prove it's a
problem' query. Before questioning whether the
issue is a problem, we should ask ourselves some
'why' questions to clarify our
"Why are there so few women in IT?"
The answers (and resulting questions) arising will
reveal our personal views about women and gender
"Because they're not interested" begs another "Why
aren't they?" Is it a 'naturalness' within women?
Is there any evidence of this? Is it that it's not
interesting to them? Is there something about
women that makes them less interested?
If one accepts that in general women and men are
equally intelligent and competent (in general
terms, not the specific) then it is a natural
extension to question why they are
under-represented in some areas and
over-represented in others.
Two Australian academics who are challenging and
engaging in this area are Bob Connell ("Gender and
Power") and Margaret Sargent ("The New Sociology
for Australians"). Margaret can be a threatening
challenge to read (she was one of my lecturers at
Uni) but is well worth sticking with. Bob C writes
in a very clear and readable fashion.
Though this is not an area in which I have
expertise (my research degree is in the sociology
of child abuse), to complete my paper I had to
spend a long time researching gender difference.
On a more personal note, let me give you an
interesting example of challenging an existing bias.
I was once one of only two men in NSW working in
child sexual assault counselling. I was the ONLY
one working with survivors of abuse (the other guy
worked with offenders and deserved twice my pay).
When I got the job I was (according to everyone
else) the first ever male to work for the State
government as an identified child sexual abuse
This put the pigeon (Moi!) amongst the cats (I'm
using the term in an affectionate, humorous
fashion) and it took some time for me to be
accepted. The women I worked with had to do do a
lot of soul-searching and self-questioning as my
position took away a job from someone who could
work with females (by far and away the largest
group of persons who are sexually assaulted) and
used precious resources on a minority group (!)
There were a few tears involved (not just mine).
They also had to change the way they worked
together and spoke - no more "men are..."
conversations and stereotypes glibly thrown into a
discussion. They also had to get used to a
different communication style and areas of
interest. Some even had to accept that beer was
not the only source of liquid one could consume
and that smoking was not always acceptable
everywhere (some of those women put brickies to
The outcome was a major shift in how the service
worked, the overall focus of the service and an
increase in the number of men who were
referred...and I mean a major increase, not just
The manager had taken a major risk employing me.
She thought it was worth it and felt the 'problem'
required addressing, despite the reservations and
objections of some. Given that it was addressing a
'minority group', a group who obviously were not
interested in working in the field and took money
that could have been used otherwise, she had to
take a lot of flack and questioning about it for
quite some time. Good on her!
As I wrote earlier, you have to question yourself
as to why you think an absolutely, mind-boggling,
bizzaro world exists in which a specific group
containing highly intelligent, capable, ingenious
and creative people is so significantly
under-represented in a field of work...and now I'm
talking about IT.
That this is not automatically considered an issue
to address has to be a catalyst for each of us to
question our values and ethical positions in
relation to this 'other' group.
Thanks to those brave few who have reached the end.
Term papers are due on the last day of class in
More information about the linux-aus