[Linux-aus] The Ada Initiative - Should Linux Aus etc

Elspeth Thorne elspeth at thorne.id.au
Fri Feb 25 08:39:22 EST 2011

On Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 9:21 AM, Jon Jermey <jonjermey at gmail.com> wrote:
> But -- with all respect -- do they have evidence that it is a problem?
> Or are they merely saying it?
> I moderate a discussion group for Golden Age detective fiction. The
> male:female ratio, as far as I can establish it, is about 80:20. I would
> love to believe there are hundreds of women on the Internet who are
> aching for a chance to discuss John Dickson Carr in a caring supportive
> environment, but there just isn't any reason to think so. As far as I
> can tell all the women who want to be there are there, and all the women
> who aren't there don't particularly want to be. The same is true of many
> atheist discussion groups, some of which are currently going through the
> same soul-searching process as this group. And you can substitute
> 'non-English-speakers' or 'younger people' for 'women' and still say
> exactly the same thing.
> That's why I am asking: is there evidence? If there is, great, put it in
> front of the decision-making groups and let them evaluate it and make
> the appropriate choice. If there is not evidence, and someone wants to
> look for it, then let's fund them to look, provided they have the
> qualifications to do so. But so far I haven't heard anything to suggest
> that anyone is inconvenienced by the current situation -- other than
> those who want to assume that gender equivalence in every population is
> somehow self-evident, and that any imbalance requires us to find a
> scapegoat.
> Your link takes me to an abstract of a book, but there are no
> conclusions shown. What does the book conclude?
> Jon.

I happen to be a woman who also happens to hold a degree in IT (BEng
in Software, to be precise). I was told in my first job out of uni
that I couldn't possibly ever be a real scientist because I was a
woman. Anecdata, yes. Perhaps my boss (the gentleman who came out with
the fascinating statement about my abilities with respect to science)
is an isolated example. Perhaps almost every IT work environment I
have been in has been abnormal in its cultural rejection of women.
Perhaps throughout my life when I was encouraged to take up another
course of expertise, and quite actively discouraged to pursue IT, my
experience was unique.

On the other hand, perhaps the abuse, harassment, discouragement and
difficulty I encountered - explicitly and openly based on my gender -
is not unique, and is, in fact, quite common if you happen to present
as female.

Perhaps we will never reach parity, because there is genuine unforced
disinterest in IT for people who happen to have two X chromosones. As
it stands, however, I'm getting out. I've had enough abuse and
harassment, and whilst I'm pretty thick-skinned, I have reached a
limit. I can't stand it any more. I quit.

Inconvenience? I'm throwing my career away and starting again.
Financially and emotionally, it's a staggering blow. But copping the
daily abuse is worse, so here I am.

Perhaps my experience is unique. I rather doubt that, however.

Elspeth Thorne
Geek and Winemaker

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