[Linux-aus] Victim Impact Statement

Janeene auslinux at dawnmist.net
Wed Nov 6 12:43:17 EST 2013

Hi everyone,

I've been reading with dismay the issues on the mailing list recently, and
just wanted to respond to the requests for links to

I do agree that a meritocracy would be the preferred approach - but that
assumes that people's merits are judged equivalently, which there *is*
research showing is not currently the case (whether the difference is
women/people of colour/etc doesn't change that there is a difference in
how people's merits and qualifications are currently judged based on
societal biases). It's not right, it's not fair, but it does currently

> I also want to note that not one result in the first 5 pages was about a
woman being harassed on a Mailing List.

Harrasment on Mailing lists - a few examples...:

You're welcome to look for more...I found these within 1 minute of
looking. The "wishes" in the second post are particularly revolting.

Research into "equivalent qualifications" (in science for this study, but
otherwise quite relevant) for men vs women:

In that study, the CVs sent as application had a *single* difference - the
name on the top of the CV changed from "John" to "Jane". That one change
was enough to consider "Jane" less qualified and worth significantly less
in terms of income and mentoring.

This one is anecdotal - from the perspective of a man with a name more
commonly associated with a woman:

"Women are not interested in Tech":

If you're exposed to that personally, or was continually reading stories
of that while growing up...is it an area that you'd be interested in even
looking at to see if it *might* interest you, or would you just avoid it
completely? Until we address the disincentives to even considering the
career, we won't have any clear evidence on whether "women don't like it"
because they don't like the work...or because they don't like the working

It's a societal-level problem, it's not restricted to tech either: 


"My theory is that since all anybody has seen, when they are growing up,
is this big imbalance - that the movies that they've watched are about,
let's say, 5 to 1, as far as female presence is concerned - that's what
starts to look normal. And let's think about - in different segments of
society, 17 percent of cardiac surgeons are women; 17 percent of tenured
professors are women. It just goes on and on. And isn't that strange that
that's also the percentage of women in crowd scenes in movies? What if
we're actually training people to see that ratio as normal so that when
you're an adult, you don't notice?"

I know for myself, that I got interested in IT (instead of Engineering)
via gaming - I started participating in and doing documentation for an
open-source game that I was enjoying playing, after having done a little
bit of programming in my Engineering degree course (which was my first
exposure to programming at all - it wasn't covered at all at high school,
and we didn't have a pc at home until late in year 12, and no internet
until my second year of Uni). The treatment of women in some gaming
circles is absolutely *vile* - and that in itself can be a major
disincentive to wanting to pursue anything that would put you more in
contact with people who *think it's ok* to make violence/rape/death
threats (or "wishes/prayers" for the same) just because you said something
that they didn't agree with (and those threats are NOT just to women -
it's just been more commonly used against women and more widely
documented, so I can pull examples more easily). I'll admit that behind
the sites documenting a lot of this are feminists - but that doesn't
invalidate what occurred. See treatment of Anita Sarkeesian - ted talk
about it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZAxwsg9J9Q , and
http://www.notinthekitchenanymore.com/ or
http://fatuglyorslutty.com/ for examples of the levels of *daily* abuse
that occurs if people discover that the gamer is "female". And no - it's
*not* "just 13 year old boys" - in general, the 13-year-olds are *far*
more decently behaved than most gamers.

I would prefer women *and everyone else* in tech to be judged on their
achievements, rather than needing "extra" support to "get them
interested". But the evidence is that society at present isn't able to
*make* those judgements fairly at present, and I believe some of the
disinterest is due more to attitudes and abuse that people entering or
looking at entering the field receive/experience. Until *that* is
addressed, I don't think the situation will change...and frankly,
incentives can't help much when the perceived attitudes in the area as a
whole are hostile to entry - and not just for women.

I'm extremely disappointed that people on the list have been attacked over
this, and some have felt they had to leave, and even more disappointed in
the abuse others have felt justified in levelling at people they disagreed
with - it's just more of the same garbage that is causing the issues for
people in the first place.

The information on what is going on *is* out there, there are studies, you
just need to look. There is a real issue - and the reactions on this list
to even raising it bear out its existence, and that it's *not* restricted
to "just" women.

We need to raise the bar for our own treatment of each other, what
behaviour we'll accept and tolerate - which in the end *does* put the
whole issue as something appropriate to be considered in list policy.

Best Regards,

More information about the linux-aus mailing list