Guest post on “you got politics in my programming”

Originally a comment by DrMcCoy on When openness is taken as an absolute.

as few as 1.5% of open source programmers are women […] chauvinism, assumptions of inferiority, and outrageous examples of impropriety (including sexual harassment at conferences where programmers gather) to a lack of women mentors and role models

A shame. really. :/

This is why I’m glad at least GNOME’s Outreach Program for Women exists. There should be more programs like that, though.

But the outcry on reddit and Phoronix when it was announced that the GNOME Foundation had a temporary cash flow problem. People yelling that the GNOME Foundation was wasting their money on that “useless” program and how they’re using donations to push their political agenda. There were even personal attacks against Karen M. Sandler, who initiated that program a few years ago and led it until moving on to the Software Freedom Conservancy earlier this month. And there’s people claiming that she “jumped ship” or was “pushed off”.

If those people had read the announcement, they would have seen that the actual issue was quite simpler: The GNOME Foundation doesn’t even pay most of the interns of the outreach program. Instead, the money comes from other companies, like Red Hat and Google. Unfortunately, some companies didn’t pay in a timely manner with the intern’s contract, so the GNOME Foundation had to front the money for a time. Apart from that, the outreach program seems to be ticking along rather nicely and growing.

As for Karen Sandler, while I don’t know her personally, I am following a podcast (“Free as in Freedom”) she does with Conservancy’s President Bradley M. Kuhn; and occasionally lurking in the related IRC channel; and read Bradley’s blog. And from what I gather, it looks to me like she was rather “pulled” by Bradley, than “pushed” from the GNOME Foundation. She has been a pro-bono attorney for Conservancy for years and she’s friends with Bradley, who has complained about his high workload in the past.

All this fuss about nothing, the “you got politics in my programming” (really, this is the Free Software, it was political from the beginning), the “she looks like a fat ugly feminist”, the “women just choose to not contribute”, the “don’t waste money on this sexist outreach”… It’s reallyfrustrating. :(


  1. sobkas says

    I’m sorry for and ashamed by such a mindless comment by software community on Phoronix and elsewhere.
    OPW is and should be essential for GNOME not only because more female contributors will strengthen the community as whole and allow to produce a better software but also because of reactions that showed up on Phoronix. Everyone that being actively disenfranchised by the society(or community) needs all the help and support. OPW is for the fellow hackers, one of us.

  2. michaelraymer says

    My significant other is a woman and works in IT, so this type of thing hits close to home. The sexist attitudes obviously exist in online tech communities, but as some high profile events have demonstrated, sadly it isn’t restricted to online interaction. There seems to be a lot of “casual” sexism where she works. For example, suggestions she makes are often overlooked or ignored until a male coworker suggests the same thing. Then it’s treated as if it has been brought up for the first time. When she points out that she mentioned this exact course of action, she’s met with blank stares. She has also been downright verbally abused for correcting male coworkers, or even just offering friendly reminders for often overlooked details. Recently she was moving equipment from one cubical to another, and got interrupted in the middle of the process by a coworker who shouted at her, “Why are you doing it that way?” loud enough that other employees in the area heard and reacted. When she explained in detail what she was doing and why, he offered no apology. Now granted, this guy sounds like a jerk, but I have to wonder if he would treat a male coworker the same way. Of course, she’s also the only woman in her department. There was another a few months ago, but she quit. I wonder why? I guess it’s just more of a guy thing, right?

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