Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 9th Jul 2009 12:09 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y During the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, Richard M. Stallman of the Free Software Foundation (and the Superfluous Introduction Award goes to...) gave a keynote speech. Said keynote speech raised a few eyebrows in the Free software community because of a number of questionable remarks regarding women in technology. David "Lefty" Schlesinger, member of the GNOME Advisory Board and active in the mobile open source community, took issue with RMS' remarks and decided to call him out on it. The response he got was... Less than satisfying.
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It certainly is an issue...
by SReilly on Thu 9th Jul 2009 12:29 UTC
SReilly
Member since:
2006-12-28

and something I'm glad you have taken the time and published here, Thom. In the twelve years I have worked in the IT industry, I have only ever worked with two female engineers. Judging by the comments of some (I hesitate to say most) am my colleagues during those two separate periods, it was two too many.

It's an attitude that I'm sure has lead to many technically minded and adept females considering other career choices. Sure, social stereotypes are a main culprit but such attitudes surely don't help.

I've always been glad to be counted among those who advocate free software but I find it hard to keep up such enthusiasm when I hear one of our main proponents not only come out with such blatantly sexist comments, but not even have the courage, not to mention manners, to apologies once they have been pointed out.

Yes, people are entitled to speak their minds but as you quite rightly pointed out, there is a time and a place. Public figures especially should be aware of this.

Reply Score: 8

RE: It certainly is an issue...
by Vanders on Thu 9th Jul 2009 12:43 in reply to "It certainly is an issue..."
Vanders Member since:
2005-07-06

Sexism in IT is a problem. This wasn't an example of sexism in IT though: people are simply seeing the word "women" through their red mist, and aren't bothering to look at the context or think about what he actually said.

If it helps, what he said was equally stupid no matter which sex or gender you replace the word "women" with.

Reply Parent Score: 2

SReilly Member since:
2006-12-28

people are simply seeing the word "women" through their red mist, and aren't bothering to look at the context or think about what he actually said.

You could very well be right, Vanders, but I disagree. How on earth could you know what RMS was thinking when he made his stupid joke without him clarifying? It's exactly that potential for misunderstanding or not that is often at the heart of other stupid idiots belittling sexism as females not being able to take a joke.

The guy is a public speaker and well known in the FLOSS movement. At the end of the day, unless he wants to cause offence, he should apologies for any off-colour remakes he makes. For all means give us an explanation but whatever he does, he still owes people an apology without trying to make himself out to be the victim.

Reply Parent Score: 3

BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

Sexism is a problem, not just in IT, but in all vocations.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: It certainly is an issue...
by kaiwai on Thu 9th Jul 2009 14:41 in reply to "It certainly is an issue..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't want to turn this into a political rant but:

1) Maybe the majority of engineers are male because the majority of males have an interest in how things work - and only a very small number of females have that same attribute? it seems to be rather silly to equate less females in a given occupation as some sort of built in discrimination. One might as well conclude that females in teaching, nursing and other female dominated professions are discriminating males because of the click, catty, back stabbing mentality that exists.

2) Wanting to be treated as an equal means being equals without special excuses - and that means hanging out with the boys, taking the piss out of each other, then so be it. There are things that I loath but you know what? I suck it up and take it as part of my job. I've been in jobs when I've had to hear guys go on and on and on and on about their car as if it were something they had sex with each night - but guess what? I suck up my bottom lip, listen, nod my head in agreement and do my work; because I'm sure there are things I talk about that irritate the crap out of people.

3) You think females have it bad in the IT world; put yourself in my shoes being a gay male - I might as well be a oddity in a freak show or some sort of creature with Sir Richard Attenborough giving a running commentary. Atleast straight guys and girls have something in common to talk about - I'm sitting out on the fringes having to hear about guys conquests on the weekend in detail.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Ventajou Member since:
2006-10-31

You're such a sexist...

Reply Parent Score: 1

SReilly Member since:
2006-12-28

I don't think that you can equate being offended by, but silent of, sexist remarks with biting your lip because you don't like what the person next to you is talking about and frankly, I can't see how you could possibly equate the two. One is deeply hurtful and alienating while the other is showing maturity.

As for there being a social stereotype when it comes to engineering, that is a fact. Nothing you say here is going to change that.

I can see how being homosexual in the IT industry could be hard, I've no doubt of that but at least being gay is not written all over you like, say, being female.

I have several gay colleagues, both male and female, though the female colleagues don't work in either of the IT departments.

Anyway, if you choose not to speak of your sexual orientation and what conquest you made at the weekend then that, my friend, is your problem . I for one have no problem discussing the "fitness" of certain colleagues with my gay work mates.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: It certainly is an issue...
by JohnFlux on Fri 10th Jul 2009 00:37 in reply to "It certainly is an issue..."
JohnFlux Member since:
2007-01-04

Hehe. You said 'period'.

Reply Parent Score: 0