Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Sexism and the Linux Community

22 June 2005

Anarchogeek makes some good points about sexism in the Linux community. Well, I’ve occasionally written about sexism in the Linux community since starting with Linux in 1998. Elise Shapiro and I co-founded BayLinuxChix, which worked pretty well as a group until the CoffeeNet went away. 🙁

Even then, one of the weird things about those meetings was the guys (many of whom wouldn’t otherwise bother with Linux events) who would show up for meetings and step all over the conversation, not letting the women speak. Hello!

Unfortunately, I’ve seen some stuff — especially since moving to Northern California — that has just really grated. Like the boss who used to stand behind women when they were on the phone and plug and unplug the phone to ridicule the poor gal. He and his cronies had developed a high-tech sounding set of buzzwords that would masquerade the fact that they were in fact describing women’s body parts — talking about them right in front of them. I only wish I were kidding. The only reason I happen to know that is that a male coworker happened to be “let in” on the little secret at some point.

Way back in 1975, when I was first interviewing for a programming position, I was then explicitly offered a lesser position specifically because I was female. I was horrified enough that I didn’t accept it. Fortunately, the company is no longer in business. Also fortunately, I’ve worked for more enlightened companies since.

But not always for more enlightened individuals, alas. Almost always, though.

Okay, I’m gonna stop or this is going to be about twenty pages… except to add this one point: I was raised by my father, so in general I’m more “guy-like” in some of my communication patterns. I don’t often notice much of this stuff unless it’s blatant.

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