Another piece about the (cough) unwelcoming atmosphere for women online. Astra Taylor makes the connection between the libertarian worldview of many techy types and the flourishing of misogyny.
Despite being held up as a paragon of political virtue, evidence suggests that as few as 1.5% of open source programmers are women, a number far lower than the computing profession as a whole. In response, analysts have blamed everything from 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. Yet the advocates of open-source production continue to insist that their culture exemplifies a new and ethical social order ruled by principles of equality, inclusivity, freedom, and democracy.
Unfortunately, it turns out that openness, when taken as an absolute, actually aggravates the gender gap. The peculiar brand of libertarianism in vogue within technology circles means a minority of members — a couple of outspoken misogynists, for example — can disproportionately affect the behavior and mood of the group under the cover of free speech. As Joseph Reagle, author ofGood Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia, points out, women are not supposed to complain about their treatment, but if they leave — that is, essentially are driven from — the community, that’s a decision they alone are responsible for.
Yes. That is true. One or two outspoken misogynists can poison the whole damn soup.