[Linux-aus] Special support for women

David Newall davidn at davidnewall.com
Wed Oct 30 19:50:14 EST 2013

I confess I do chuckle at some of the replies, not glee from a 
"successful trolling," but from the irony that some people failled to 
see that a humourous discussion can also be serious.  As demonstrated, 
this can be done with consitency.  The world would be dull were it 
otherwise.   Q.E.D.

Dare I say that those who have screamed troll have exposed a bias which 
they are reluctant to support.  It's a common syndrome which impresses 
few other than those with a like mind, and bothers me not.  Please do 
accuse me of trollery if it makes you feel better, as it requires so 
little effort to understand your view, quite unlike the effort to 
understand the well reasoned discussion that most of us offer.  It's 
similarly easy to ignore airmchair psychologists who say that those with 
Autism are not trolls.  (I don't dispute the claim, but I doubt anybody 
believes it's relevant.)

I will clarify something which so many people, to my suprise, appeared 
to have misconstrued: In no way did I suggest that women in IT are 
generally incompetent, and I invite those who thought otherwise to read 
me again.  (I tell you now that I have worked with only one woman 
programmer, and she was top notch.  Of the many men I have worked with 
during the past almost 30 years, most sorely lacked competence.  
Unsurprisingly, and pleasingly, the hacker-space, from which free 
software often comes, is vastly superior than what appears to me to be 
the industry norm.  I think we truly are a meritocracy.)  So: whereas I 
did not say that women in IT lack competence, I did say that a candidate 
(in almost any industry) selected for reason of being female can be 
undermined by the perception or accusation that she was not the best.  
This is not likely to happen to top-flight women, Maggie Thatcher being 
an exempler, but might be said of women of lesser talent; in some cases 
it will even be true.  I suppose to deny this must indicate naivete or 

I guess there's something else I said which has not been universally 
understood: is a person more deserving of our funds for the reason that 
she is female?  She is not.  Is it useful to tell women how much fun 
there is to be had with FOSS?  It is, but no more than telling men.  Is 
it appropriate to do something special for Grace Hopper (another great 
women who needed no favour because of her sex) day?  It certainly is.  
Is it appropriate to do something special for Alan Turing day?  
Likewise, it is.  Understand: support the person, not the sex.  Support 
the technology, not the irrelevant sociology.

I now address the rebuttal that women are under-represented in STEM.  I 
believe this to be true.  My admitted experience shows it to be true in 
IT.  I'm sure none of us doubts it to be true.  The thesis is that 
obliging industry to appoint more women is not appropriate.  Somebody 
already said it: an imbalance need not be from discriminatory 
appointment practices: I think the example given was the 
under-representation of men in childcare; mayhap the women amongst us 
don't know why fewer men want to be in this industry, but from my male 
perspective, it is obvious.  Well done those men who do hanker for that 
vocation, but I would strongly oppose the corresponding policy of 
affirmative action.

I challenge anybody to seriously and thoughtfully argue that 49% of 
positions in child-care should be reserved for men.  (The percentage 
should probably be much higher to reflect that a greater proportion of 
those who choose not to participate in the workforce are women.)

More information about the linux-aus mailing list