Where are the women in open source?

Deep rooted problems in open source culture.

It gets tiresome when every time someone publishes an article about this issue, a stream of misogynistic trolls start babbling and complaining. You fucking assholes are just proving the point entirely. The real problem is that these people aren't just scaring off women, but also men who perhaps don't have time in their lives for such equivocating bullshit. Obsessing over belief in their own inflated intelligence and the inferiority of women and 'normal' people, these pathetic little men have absolutely no understanding of gender and sexuality if the general level incoherent nonsense in such comments is anything to go by. Creative, social, positive, integrative people are intensely repelled by the odorous and obnoxious cloud that seems to surround the Linux community, whose social problems are actually much worse than many are willing to accept.

I've written previously about issues surrounding the decline of women in computer science, but the open source community is another world altogether. With such a culture as it has grown from in the past 15 years, I don't think that there's too much hope for change in the Linux community. For starters, the sooner we stop thinking about Linux as the be-all and end-all of open source, the better. Don't read me wrong - I love Linux, but I feel that from the perspective of those of us who want the ideals of free software to succeed, the culture has too many deep rooted complexes that do nothing but reinforce the negative gender stereotypes that we would all be better off without. Stallman can rant about the importance of differentiating between 'free software' and 'open source' all he wants, but this is no more than ineffectual nonsense if his followers continue to drive away users and potential contributors with their misogynistic intellectual masturbation and pissing contests.

If you want your software to succeed long term, you have to make it work for todays children and teenagers first and foremost. You have to make it matter to the girls and boys, who have grown up surrounded by computers and technology, and don't have any of the 'sci-fi geek' hangups that defined the generation of kids who were exposed to the computer culture during the 80's and 90's. These younger people see the world in a completely different way. Companies like Apple and Microsoft understand this intimately and they are further ahead in terms of software usability than most people immersed in the open source world comprehend. It is inexcusable to underrate the chicken vs egg like importance of interface design, but clearly, many developers just don't grasp this at all, and the crappy software that they produce is testament to their ignorance of people using their tools and inability to prioritise their needs. Success is designed. It's really as simple as that.


Where are the women in open source? was published on .

Information Apocalypse

The beginnings of this website. Explorations, experiments and unfiltered thoughts from my life in Wellington during 2004-2008. Wildly out of date and probably not what I believe now.