Saturday, September 19, 2009

Feminism's dirty little secret

Feminism is an ideology and like any ideology it has three major flaws:
  1. It assumes that we have an unlimited free will;
  2. It assumes that nature is inherently just, it's just us humans who mess up;
  3. It assumes that the world will become just when all people participate, but at the same time it is unable to cope with the people who do not.
Unfortunately, all these assumptions are wrong.

Free will
The battle between nature and nurture has been raging since ages and is still not fully resolved. In the darkest days of "political correctness" scientists were even unable to properly research their hypotheses. Opponents thought it was unethical to even think there might be a link between crime and genetical disposition or that the root cause of homosexuality was completely physical.

Of course, this was not the first time that science and ideology clashed. The Catholic church has particular long and bad track record, the most notorious incident being Galileo who was forced to denounce that the earth moved around the sun. But mankind has moved on and now we are all illuminated, aren't we?

No, we're not. "Political correctness" is the dogma of our time and it may still not be questioned. We have a free will. Our decisions are not influenced by mere hormones and genetical layout. We are all able to freely make our choices, have our own special talents and any differences we perceive in the real world must be attributed to external factors. Well, say hello to behaviorism.

Behaviorism assumes that all we are can be attributed to our past experiences. If boys are taught to play with dolls, they will play with dolls. If girls are taught to play with computers, they will become great FOSS contributors. Behaviorism was very influential in the sixties and it was in those days that they conducted their most gruesome experiments. The most notorious case was the case of David Reimer. Reimer was mutilated shortly after birth and John Money decided it was best if the young boy had a complete sex change and was brought up as a girl. Of course, it didn't work and after desperately trying to assume a male lifestyle, David committed suicide at the age of 38.

Nature is just
Another assumption is that nature has distributed all talents evenly between the sexes. Therefore, any differences can only be attributed to external factors. As much as feminists like to deny it, it is nowadays accepted that there are differences between the sexes.

Let me elaborate on this a little. We're talking averages here. Although on average men tend to be longer than women, it is possible that you meet a certain man that is shorter than a certain woman. Prejudice comes in when you say that all women are shorter than all man and apply this principle to every woman you meet.

Are there any differences between men and women that go beyond the mere physical level? Well, yes there are and it has been known for a long time. Of course, this knowledge is not in the interest of feminists and this movement has done anything and everything to deny it, debunk it or make it known to the general public.

The simple truth is, that an area of the brain called the inferior-parietal lobule (IPL) is typically significantly larger in men, especially on the left side, than in women. This section of the brain is thought to control mental mathematical ability, and probably explains why men frequently perform higher in mathematical tasks than do women. Interestingly, this is the same area of Einstein’s brain that was discovered to be abnormally large. This may very well explain why on average more men are inclined to sit down and crank out FOSS programs than women. That would mean that Bruce Byfield and Carla Schroder are fighting an uphill battle, since the averages will never significantly change. Well, at least not in our lifetime.. Evolution tends to be a rather tedious process.

Sam Varghese mentioned one significant issue that is important when comparing FOSS and commercial software. ICT covers a very wide range of professions nowadays, it's not limited to mere programmers. I don't even have to resort to just "marketing and sales people, administrators in proprietary software companies and the like". There are also female project leaders, female consultants and female ITIL implementers. All these jobs require little or no programming skills. I can easily confirm this since I'm an ITIL consultant myself.

The heretics
Frequent readers of my blog know I'm particularly fond of "labeling" and the label of this week is "anti-feminism".

Well, for the record: I'm not an anti-feminist. I consider myself to be a FOSS proponent and there is only one thing that counts to me: great code. I don't care whether you are black or white, atheist or Christian, male or female. I don't check the "About" boxes before I give my judgment. Great code is just great code. It's what FOSS is all about: meritocracy. Because I'm convinced that is the real driving force of FOSS, not "sexism" as some are trying to make us believe.

As Sam Varghese already noted in his recent blog, there is one significant flaw in the reasoning of my opponents: sexism is the root cause of driving women away from FOSS. Well, if there is any causality between the low number of women participating in FOSS on one hand and sexism on the other hand, simply punch up the numbers. BTW, for the scientifically challenged: examples are statistically insignificant. If you don't, I'll consider it unproven and won't subscribe to this point of view.

I've been earning my living for over twenty five years in this line of work and consequently, I've worked with a lot of women. Some of them were brilliant and I've learned a lot from them. They are strong, talented people who I got to know very well in the course of time. I know they would shrug their shoulders if they read what has been written lately. They just did their thing and no one was gonna hold them back, certainly not an immature youngster or a single sound bite of a cute, old hippie.

No, they have quite some other issues to deal with. Dilbert like management decisions, for instance - which I regret to say, happen only too frequently. Those are particularly hard to swallow - not only for women. Dear editors and journalists, that is the real world. That is what people - including women - have to cope with every day when they try to do their job. That is what stresses them, sometimes to the point that they quit their job or their profession. Write about that, you $%&*!

Nobody denies people the right to pursue their dreams. I have no problem to think of "women" as "people" as some feminists would like us to believe. I'd love to see my girlfriend use my compiler. As a matter of fact: I taught her, but she wasn't really interested. But it has to be her choice, not mine. If she, as an adult, decides to choose another career or hobby who am I to deny her that privilege?

Women nowadays enjoy a freedom that their great grandmothers didn't have. And even in those days there were women like Marie Curie and Aletta Jacobs who just did their thing. Treating women like feeble creatures who are ignorant and cannot make their own choices is a 19th century mentality. Modern women can have a good education, in some western countries female university students outnumber the males. That is what the feminist movement has been able to achieve.

What it doesn't and probably will never be able to achieve is an equal distribution of males and females in all faculties. The thing is: do we really need to? And if so, why? And if that is so important to women they should take an example to their predecessors like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and just do their thing. Write code. Impress me. Just do it! Stop making excuses!

The cause of the low number of women who participate in FOSS is the low number of women that are participating in FOSS! Unless a huge number of males quit making FOSS software, that ratio is not going to change - no matter what.

Just stop bothering and blaming the people who do. Call me sexist if you want (see how much I care), but let me do my thing. We're people too, you know.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Right On! I was privileged to have an EE/coder working for me who could (and would) do anything from wire wrapping on up, and who had the most insightful mind I have ever worked with...could see through to the core of problems that stumped the rest of us. She left engineering and went on to get an MD where she still excels. Her patients are the beneficiaries. Her high school counselors told her that "girls couldn't be engineers". I had male EEs on the project that were dumb as a stump but had kissed the right management cheek.
It's all about the code, or the circuit or whatever...forget all the PC crap. If it's in your blood, it's in your blood.

Anonymous said...

If you pretend you're sorry she'll pretend to forgive you, and then you can get your mind back on IT.

This comment was made possible by male intuition.

Ed said...

Lately I'm seeing huge amount of feminist articles that constantly abuse logic and it is very unsettling. However reactions like these bring spark of light and thank you for it.
Assumption that every non-random subset of humans (some race, gender or profession) has the same biological properties (that includes cognitive diversity and ability) is politicly correct, however nature is not.
By assuming so every imbalance in the system leads to conclusion that someone is repressed and in that respect I understand feminists. However their lack of understanding basic logic is dangers to all of us and people need to become aware of that. Not only do they damage men, but also the majority of women by filling their heads with nonsense and ofcourse they get disappointed when something goes wrong.
Thing that amazes me the most is that in every respect of existence that woman on average have superiority or higher affinity against men in feminism is regarded normal, while in areas that are in majority driven by men there is an injustice everything should be 50-50% no matter what's the quality.
Soon on top technical universities in USA we'll start to fire Asians because their share on such universities vastly outnumbers their share in general population. And ofcoruse it can only be explained by some social phenomena that has nothing to do with their inherited cognitive abilities.

Bob Robertson said...

Walter Block has done excellent work in economics investigating various aspects of the "wage gap".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAzkQWgIEbU

Anonymous said...

Did you bother to actually *ask* these unnamed women (you know, instead of assuming that you really know what are they thinking)?

(It's always better to go for some fact checking before writing, especially before writing a rant full of pontification but rather scarce of data; if I may remind you, the plural of anecdote is not data.)

Anonymous said...

Your post focused entirely on the ratio of men to women and its reasons, this is completely irrelevant to the real issue: the behaviour pointed at by Bruce Byfield and Carla Schroder among others is deeply offensive and shouldn't be tolerated.

Anonymous said...

You are wrong about political correctness! I am not , nor will I ever be politically correct!!!

Politically Correct=Mentally Challenged!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It might be interesting to look at 'feminism' in its historical context. At one time, feminists merely desired male recognition of the value of the traditional work performed by women. Feminism has somehow morphed into a movement that finds traditional gender roles abhorrent, and wishes to redefine female success in terms of how well women can pretend to be men - rather than placing any value on the feminine. They are actually, rather absurdly, anti-feminists.

Most women which I have met, who have worked to obtain the neofeminist version of success are hopelessly miserable, and more than a little hateful towards normal people.

The Beez' said...

@Anonymous (how many are there here??)
If I had published their names you would have blamed me for violating their privacy, but alright.

Yes, I asked them - or better - the subject came around at one moment or another. I've had long friendships with some of the women I worked with and talked with them in great length about a large number of subjects.

One case was particularly sad. She left the company she worked for because even after lengthy discussions with management, they insisted on taking a decision that would hamper the work of many co-workers on the log run.

She couldn't stand that injustice and after I tried to convince her to stay, she left to my great regret. It was one of the brightest ITIL people I worked with and a great systems administrator.

And the jokes? Well, every now and then some popped up and she tended to laugh where males even didn't dare to. A great person. I miss her each and every day at work. She would be a great help to my current project.

Anonymous said...

Definitely true. Walk into any Sociology class in any university in Canada or the US and you'll notice one thing....In a class of 1000, you'll likely find only a hand full of men. The ratio is worse than nursing. It's ironic that sociologists love to "fix" the ratio balances in other fields but don't even notice the "problem" in their own. But as you point out, it's not a problem and it's not something that needs fixing.

Yes, artificial barriers should be removed, and it is good to promote role models, but as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him or her drink.

WRT nature being "just", I think you're looking for another word. The world's fastest running is not likely the world's greatest violinist. It's not a matter of justice. It's simply a fact of life that different people have different skills and different interests. No one person can know all things or have the time to be good at everything ... especially this century.

Unfortunately talents and interests can be genetic. The bodies of North American aborigines are far better at storing fat than Europeans. This means that all things being equal, if you place an aborigine and a European alone in a forest and trained them equally, the aborigine would have a higher chance of surviving the winter simply because when times are tough, the aborigine could live off his fat while the European would have to rely on creating a food storage that could be safe from animals and hope that no food got spoiled or exposed to the elements and hope that he stored enough food. Thousands of years of evolution have given the aborigine a distinct advantage. Unfortunately, advantages can be disadvantages if you're outside your specialization, which is why aborigines tend to have a higher degree of diabetes in the modern world. They simply don't have an opportunity to get rid of their summer fat.

For the same reason, there are areas where men excel and areas where women excel. When you try to change roles in areas where there is special adaptation, it is possible, but it's generally much harder for the genetically maladapted sex to adjust.

That being said, mathematics is a bad example. The sex ratio in my math specialist class in university was almost equal, no doubt due to the fact that unlike lower math (the types most accountants and engineers use), advanced abstract mathematics calls upon a variety of skills, from both "left and sides of the brain".

Software is not advanced mathematics, however so I don't know what the true ratio is. But I suspect it's not much different than what we're currently seeing.

Anonymous said...

I think you're looking at the wrong issues here. I don't know the background for this, but you seem solely focused on ratio of men to women in the computer science field. This has nothing to do with ratios. It has to do with attitudes and most importantly opportunities (and I don't mean manufacturing opportunities like the whole equal opportunity stuff...I mean legitimate merit based opportunities). It's not about making sure that 50% of programmers are female. It's about making sure that the talented female programmers get the same opportunities as the talented male ones.

Now certainly I understand your point that in FOSS, particularly where much of the project is done blind and over the internet, is based on the merit of the code. However even FOSS programming isn't done in a vacuum. Much of FOSS has become a corporate sponsored and programmed ecosystem. Are the talented women in those companies getting the same opportunities as the men? I'd venture to say that it's probably a mixed bag. The problem is you're in the majority telling the minority "shut up there's no problem". But because it's not a problem for YOU doesn't mean it's not a problem.

By the way I'm neither female nor PC (although I do believe that you should be nice and respectful of all your various groups of people...but some people do go a bit overboard on the PC stuff). Also little boys do play with dolls, they're just called action figures. Many things are in fact determined by upbringing, including things like hobbies and interests. I'm not sure that comparing how children play to sexual identity is a valid argument. While you're correct that sexual identity is something hard wired into the brain (and it doesn't always match the physical sex) appropriate gender behavior is something that's taught.

Ed said...

I'm not sure why my post hasn't gone through verification. Not that I think that my post has any significant value but just curious?

The Beez' said...

@Ed
I used to have free and immediate commenting, but than the spammers came in. Now I have to moderate each and every message. The problem is: I have to sleep too! ;-) Sorry for the delay.

AmyStephen said...

When you dig back to Galileo, sex change operations, and the massive size of your IPL, you can be fairly certain you are on shaky ground, my friend.

I have no idea what precipitated this unfortunate rant, but, you have sadly missed the point of why it is important to address low participation rates of women in FOSS. It is the very same reason it is important to encourage more participation from Asians. If we are producing software for the world, it makes sense to involve a representative (and diverse) set of viewpoints and backgrounds.

Happily, if we work towards making our projects more welcoming to those in underrepresented populations, then, we also make the climate more welcoming to everyone.

Do you contribute code to free software projects? I do. That's not the only type of contributions needed, though. There is work that matches every skillset out there, we are not only looking for developers.

By the way, I started my geek journey almost 30 years ago, too, slinging COBOL and holding on to Grace Hopper as a source of inspiration. It is still largely a "man's world" but I never minded working ten times as hard for opportunity. It made me stronger and smarter and better at what I do.

Back to writing code. No offense, but, I don't really care whether my code impresses you, or not. Try dropping all the labels and rhetoric and let yourself be inspired by life. It's an amazing world and a fantastic time to be a geek. Be well.

Ed said...

@The Beez
No problem, I understand. Articles that where written today had been approved, and mine being written yesterday was not. So that confused me.

Btw, I've read all your articles yesterday, I liked them a lot, keep up the good work.

Hungry Hamster said...

I think as a male with a post-graduate research degree in a related field - MA (Hons) Sociology qualifications - I think I can provide some clarification.

Feminism does not assume:

1. ...that we have an unlimited free will;
2. ... that nature is inherently just, it's just us humans who mess up;
3. ... that the world will become just when all people participate, but at the same time it is unable to cope with the people who do not.

I'd suggest taking a basic course in sociology to brush up on your misunderstanding...this goes for many who have commented here positing their personal view as being representative of something which is rather more complicated.

Here's a short list:

Volatile Bodies. Elizabeth Grosz. 1994.
Is the future female?: Troubled Thoughts on Contemporary Feminism. Lynne Segal. 1987.
Telling Flesh: The Substance of the Corporeal. Vicki Kirby. 1997.
Gender and Power. R (Bob).W. Connell. 1987.


The easiest to read would be the last by Bob Connell.

Feminist theory generates ideological concepts. Contemporary feminism attempts to position gender within a cultural construct and question whether the validity of gender constructs which are produced and in turn produce through the operation of differing physical bodies - in short, what is the interaction between the physical and cultural factors and how do these affect our views of gender and relationships. A simple example is available to use all. Where you a 'geek' at school? If so, while you were basically male, you were NOT really a proper male. You were less so, because you were a geek. Geeks/nerds etc are descriptors for those males who fail to be part of the dominant male cultural grouping. US American's like the term 'Jocks' (apparently) for those males at school who were traditional in the presentation of their gender identity and who fit the dominant male categories.

It's quite interesting and I'm sure you'll all get something out of reading these books. Again, I'd suggest Bob Connell's as he writes well and covers the subject well for beginners.

...and yes, if you read these books, you will see that the three 'claims' made by the Hans Bezemer (http://thebeezspeaks.blogspot.com/) are fundamentally incorrect, thus undermining the rest of the article.

For the record, I was a school athletics champion who thoroughly enjoyed English.

The Beez' said...

@Hungry Hamster
Sorry, I am a beta and do not mix very well with gamma sciences unless they produce the proper numbers. BTW, my description was to ideology in general and can be applied to religion or political beliefs as well.

I quickly researched your stuff and found that none have a degree in neurosciences or similar fields of expertise. I don't have to tell you that the relation between (beta) science and feminism is problematic at the least.

"Feminist theory generates ideological concepts."
Science is science. It shouldn't occupy itself with ideology in the first place. It violates the basic principles of empiric research.

Charm quarks are not gonna behave differently because we don't like what they're doing.

Hungry Hamster said...

@ The Beez.

The haughty note in your comment reveals the fact that you don't have any real understanding of sociology or the human sciences.

Firstly they don't need backgrounds in neuroscience - like any good writer and academic, they often need to rely on the work of others. Good academics and writers are able to incorporate work completed by other specialists in their fields. Have a read of the books and then comment.

Secondly the notion of 'gamma' science made me laugh. It's patently an expression of your personal belief system, as there is nothing 'scientific' about it. My wife attended two of the premier universities in Australia (Sydney and Macquarie). She is a psychologist and aced statistics in all her classes in all three degrees - her first post grad degree required that she compete with people who were medical post grad students and statistics post grad students as well. She was approached to change degrees to purely stats. She finds the notion of it being 'hard' humorous too. As she says, it is far harder to work with people that numbers.

Claims of the lack of politics in science are patently not true. A basic reading of the material available will help you with this, rather than your personal concept. Though I don't agree with some of Karl Popper's work, have a read.

Yes, you do have to tell me there's a problem between science in relation to the none-human sciences and Feminism. I'm curious as to what evidence you have for this? I'm only aware of claims, usually made by people who have no qualifications in the area, or those who have failed to keep up in the last few decades.

Finally, claims that the humans sciences is purely 'fluff' just plain misguided. Sure, you can't do to people what you might do to lead, but this does not invalidate anything about the area. It's just an old claim which fails to convince and is drawn out when there's little else left in the armoury.

The Beez' said...

@Hungry Hamster
Look, I'm sure that you're not gonna read my bibliography list and I certainly don't intend to read yours. During my study I occupied myself too much with this kind of literature researched sociology studies and frankly I don't consider endless quotes of Hegel, Marx and Fromm very scientific in comparison with my beta study.

I left plenty of material in the links for you to follow, research and comment. It covers most of the questions you posed here.

If you really happen to be in university circles, you know that there is a latent contempt of beta sciences towards gamma sciences.

Statistics is a whole field in itself. If you don't apply it properly, you can prove almost everything you want, but who am I telling. Note that particle research more and more relies on statistics, which is still heavily discussed in certain circles. Have we really seen what we have seen?

Ed said...

@Hungry Hamster
When someone says that he is mathematician, physicist, engineer you can be fairly certain that he has some idea when he speaks about his subject. Nevertheless on first year of collage they are learned basic practical logic and they know that it's not valid for them to argument things like "I'm right because I'm a mathematician".
When someone says that he is "philosopher", "sociologist" or the rest of humanities you don't have any guarantee that such person has any real idea about the subject (this doesn't mean that all of you are bad scientists). So really don't use that argument, especially not in some scientific circle (natural scientists...), it's a joke.
Science doesn't function in a way: something should function this way, thus it functions that way!
Feminism science functions exactly in such way (not to mention the conflict of interest).
And why do you assume that nobody that talks about feminism in such matter hasn't read any sociological books? It's not quantum physics so that it's something that only sociologist can do. I'd say that we can understand these books even better because we understand statistics.

So some men are teasing/offending women in open source world. So what?! Men do that, to men, women, everyone, that's who we are. There are always idiots that don't know when to stop, but such guys usually irritate and the rest of us. We generally like to have women around. They have certain qualities that we don't. As for the teasing, it goes from kindergarten to adult age, in first case you would pull some girl for hair if you like her, and when you're older that manifests it self in some other way. Usually women surrounded by men have lot of advantages, of course if she is not a neurotic feminist and has little charm (which average woman does have). But woman charm by feminists is thought as something bad (as does anything else that is peculiar for women), "why use your charm to control men, if you have brains" (even if you don't)... well I'll tell you why...it works better.

Hungry Hamster said...

Taking your lead, I'll make this my final post as I think there are some things we may agree on and others things we won't and without either of us spending a very long time and writing considerably, neither of use are likely to be able to pursue any of the points we'd like.

"Look, I'm sure that you're not gonna read my bibliography list and I certainly don't intend to read yours."

Fair enough.

"During my study I occupied myself too much with this kind of literature researched sociology studies and frankly I don't consider endless quotes of Hegel, Marx and Fromm very scientific in comparison with my beta study."

They are different worlds and use different methodologies. As you say, you've read a lot and that, for anyone (including myself), is always good. Your grasp of sociology is not strong and your understanding of feminism is fundamentally flawed. Consequently the extensions of your general argument about feminism is negatively affected. Most likely one could say the same if I were to apply my knowledge of computer sciences to something you are more familiar with.

"If you really happen to be in university circles, you know that there is a latent contempt of beta sciences towards gamma sciences."

I would have to say that there is and has been a long history, generally stemming from period commencing with the industrial revoluction during which both fields have seen each other in a similar fashion. I can say that this is not something I agree with and, more so, something I find limiting. I have a great interest in astro and earth sciences of all forms, including biology and enjoy reading about them enormously. My post-grad research degree focused on cross-disciplinary work, as I believe this is an area where great steps are still required.

"Statistics is a whole field in itself. If you don't apply it properly, you can prove almost everything you want, but who am I telling. Note that particle research more and more relies on statistics, which is still heavily discussed in certain circles. Have we really seen what we have seen?"

There's no reason to disagree with you there.

Thank you for continuing to post my comments.

Regards,

Patrick

KimTjik said...

I choose not to elaborate much about feminism, besides stating that I'm quite disappointed to see that some have tainted a good cause by degrading natural female qualities instead of celebrating them and rise their value in society.

I haven't pondered enough on this issue, but I have some thoughts about the subject provoking you to choose such a flammable title. FLOSS is from a pure software angle about making the best possible code. To reach that goal we need however social as well as other skills. It's also possible to write very clever and efficient code performing some amazing task, but then create a crap interface to control it. Code might make wonders in the hands of the developer, but unfortunately some developers might have a weird perception about human logic, making users sing along with Zappa "and the torture never stops". My point? Forget about mathematics, it's still only a ingredient to make the soup of FLOSS taste good.

Do we need more women involved in FLOSS? Yes, I believe so, because a lot of those areas I mentioned is probably best done by someone who even doesn't love code per se, but have an eye for usability and layouts and understands code well enough to make suggestions (once more social skills become necessary between ultra-skilled coders and fairly skilled coders). Even from a narrow minded male viewpoint it looks like women would perform several of these tasks better. Gender differences are a blessing, as weaknesses might get overlapped by other's strengths.

Does less women enjoy coding? The current state of affairs seems to suggest that, even though I suspect that there are many potential great female coders that got cooled feet because of the introvert culture among coders (if we're really talking about coders I'm not sure there's a rate difference between FLOSS and proprietary). Every lost bright brain is a loss for the movement, hence changing attitudes would benefit not only self esteem among women already involved but also invite new starts and without doubt improve usability of interfaces provided to consumers.

To sum up: I believe it's counter productive to criticize those who encourage an increase of women in FLOSS. At the same time it's of course pragmatic to not set the mind on some purely statistic figure like 50/50 and believe that human will is shaped by numbers. The nature of FLOSS is anyway different than that of proprietary software. A company doesn't hire workers beyond what's profitable, hence blocking some talents from proving their skills. FLOSS could potentially give room to everyone with a will to participate and time will prove one's talent, be it a man or woman. But it only works if FLOSS communities doesn't limit themselves by prejudice or stereotypes. Cons of some feminism movements have very little to do with this.

Anonymous said...

I wasted several years of my life participating in the so called "Gender War", until I finally saw it for what it was - misdirected political posturing to sustain an eternal conflict that can never have a Victor, and serves no higher purpose that to feed the egos of those who choose to wage it. In this respect of selfish narcissism, men and women have achieved perfect gender equality.
ALL human beings, regardless of gender, color, race, or lifestyle, want the same things - to choose our own paths in life, and most of all, to be respected and recognized for our best efforts regardless of where those paths lead us.
Due to my race and gender, I was denied a college education, however, that did not stop me from pursuing excellence in the other aspects of my life, and I am satisfied in knowing that I have done the best I could with what I had to work with. I can't honestly say that I'd be happier if things turned out differently.
The time is long past due that we should learn to put this palaver to rest, and get on with our lives. After all, it's not our lives that are as important as how we choose to live them.

Bruce said...

This post reflects the same disappointing lack of nuance that characterizes political debates about race in the U.S. these days.

The most basic fallacy of your argument is that there is such a thing as one "feminism" (the "it" you refer to). A quick perusal of wikipedia would give you an idea of the diversity of feminism. What you're railing against is but a caricature of what that article describes as "liberal feminism."

The other problem is that you're guilty of the same simple, binary, thinking you accuse others of. Clearly there are many issues behind the relative lack of participation of women in many FOSS communities, but sexism does have some role. It's just that the role may be more subtle and complex than the sum total of the actions of individual community members.

Chris Kringle said...

Wow you really know nothing about Feminism, maybe you should have read Wikipedia before posting this nonsense. Sure maybe you had a beef with your co-worker, but this is the wrong approach.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully your FOSS is better than your writing. I did not understand the below sequence... You either wrote something wrong or you are a horrible author.

As Sam Varghese already noted in his recent blog, there is one significant flaw in the reasoning of my opponents: sexism is the root cause of driving women away from FOSS. Well, if there is any causality between the low number of women participating in FOSS on one hand and sexism on the other hand, simply punch up the numbers. BTW, for the scientifically challenged: examples are statistically insignificant.

But you're reasoning isn't very tight. For example, you make vastly over-blown statements about brain differences and differences in math. Because you failed to cite your sources, I wonder if you have any? (And if not, who the F888K are you to be disdainful to the "scientifically challenged" when you, yourself don't follow the rules?)

So, let me school you a bit: Actually, there is very little evidence for large, robust (i.e., significant) differences between men and women in cognitive abilities or personality. Women out-perform men in math as children and as adults; it's only during adolescence and young adulthood that men clearly outperform women. This leads some to assume that these differences are caused by developmental characteristics associated with this stage of development (whether cognitive, social, or biological, or some combination).

But the effect sizes we're talking about here are small; it's not true--it is emphatically ignorant--to argue that there are big gender differences in basic abilities that explain different career or hobby choices. Here are two meta-analyses that show this:

Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 116 (3), 429-456

Hyde, J. S., Fennema, E., & Lamon, S. J. (1990). Gender differences in mathematics performance: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 107 (2), 139-155.

And you look like an ass to write this tripe with the ridiculous tone like you know anything about this stuff (which you clearly do not).

I'll look forward to your humble retraction.

The Beez' said...

@Hungry Hamster
"Thank you for continuing to post my comments."
Why? Hungry Hamster, proving your point by suppressing opposite opinions is a not something I believe in.

@Anonymous
You can cite several more papers on this, I'm sure. There are still papers trying to prove Charles Darwin was wrong. Note I provided plenty of links. You can find vast bibiographies there.

Anonymous said...

TonyY
Hi Beez......just because I agreed with your basic premise on LXT, the fur flew. I said in a later post that LXT forums were absolutely NO place for this sort of acrimonious exchange which serves only to fragment a Linux society that pulls together rather than suffers angst, acrimony, anger and accusations.....I'd use a few more a's, but you get the idea.

I wish to heavens Carla had never never ever put her editorial onto the site. It smells too much of feminism and sour grapes...it may very well not be of course, but that is how it appealed to me.

The first post of all on LXT more or less walked sanely down this same path, and I stated it directly later on. It needs constructivce suggestions and solutions, not a blast against all in general.....If you read my second post under TonyY you'll get my basic philosopy.

I realise this is a letter to you and you can print it or not as you choose, but I had no other way of saying I supported what you said and found the subsequent attacks on you rather stupid.

Women can do anything......if they want to. And a woman is the most dangerous adversary of all..... believe it.

TonyY

Ed said...

Interesting example

I believe that some of you may find this interesting or can make you angry.. whatever :) It nicely illustrates how some "scientists" are politically driven, in this case feminists who try to prove gender equality in math.
More absurd example is chess, where in top 200 players on the world there is only one woman. Just try to say that it has something to do with biology and not chauvinistic/patriarchal society, they'll immediately jump on your throat.

WE ARE *NIXED! said...

I believe that the issue at hand is that interest in computers and technology in general is just not there. After several decades of actual discrimination based on gender stereotypes, how can we expect a complete turnaround in just a few years? That's unrealistic.

In my humble opinion, Byfield is simply pretending to speak for others when in reality he is not. Hey Bruce! If women are offended by the statements of others, let them speak for themselves. It is often all too easy to cry out about injustices when we're in a position of convenience to do so. Neither one of us is female so neither one of us will ever have much room to talk about the subject matter in question one way or another.

With that being said, I see the conflict between genders as a mere distraction. I believe that the greater issue at hand is getting more people to understand technology, for if they do not, then they will be controlled for the rest of their lives by those who do understand technology.

Anonymous said...

I believe feminists (M/F) are romantics.

They desperately hold on to the believe that men can be improved.

In that respect I am a feminist (M), but I must admit that I am often overwhelmed by doubt.

In every other respect, these are rear-guard fights. Women are in the process of taking over every field of learning and science.

Go to any department in any university in the developed world and you will see many more female (PhD) students than a decade ago. And anything NOT hard core technology, from literature to medicine, will be dominated by women already.

Go to high-schools and the classes that prepare for university will show you that the imbalance is only increasing.

There is already talk about our educational system failing BOYS, where only 25 years ago it was massively failing girls.

Winter

Anonymous said...

It's what FOSS is all about: meritocracy.

This is too simplistic and naive. It is not all about meritocracy.

This is similar to the previous commenter who points out that there are only three female chess players in top 200. The low proportion of females in chess is due to either a biological basis or a lack of interest in chess. The conclusion is that the same applies to FOSS.

What you and the commenter fail to realise that this is just not so. A woman can pursue a career in chess if she wishes to do so. Once she has made that choice she should be free to pursue it without any discrimination. In chess it is possible. In chess the figurehead of the movement does not give key note speeches about relieving women of their virginity. In chess speeches are not given in conferences with pictures of women in bikinis and in provocative poses. In FOSS all this happens, and is conveniently ignored or justified. It is not just meritocracy, it is also providing an environment to nurture talent. All the examples of women you quote, they had this provided to them. To deny this is to put your head in the sand, and force yourself not to see the reality. RMS comments do not nurture talent. Your comments along the lines of "this is biology, get on with it" does not either.

WE ARE *NIXED! said...

@The comment regarding education: That is precisely the problem. It shouldn't be all out war. Rather, it should be about harmony instead. Having the tables turned would be just as wrong as the previous status quo.

Hungry Hamster said...

@ claims of national IQ.

It takes little to find out why their research is so shoddy:

http://en.allexperts.com/e/i/iq/iq_and_the_wealth_of_nations.htm

More so, non-verbal IQ testing is one of the only ways of determining a persons IQ and much of that can be affected by low GDP - poor levels of nutrition affecting cognitive development.

Boring.

About as boring as ignoring a history of discrimination against women with much evidence to show favouritism and bias. Even Marie Curie had to fight against it (read any of the more recent biographies).

...and please don't get excitable. Bias is destructive either way.

The Beez' said...

@Hungry Hamster
Hmm, I had to check a few times to be sure it was you.

Don't get angry, but I especially used the examples of e.g. Curie to show strong women have always had their way even under the hardest conditions.

Feeling "isolated" because someone advertises his product as "for big boys" wasn't really on her radar I suppose.

Stephan Beal said...

i need a woman who can say, "honey, can you please check this stacktrace while i order the pizza?" and really mean it.

klhrevolution said...

It's good to see some balance in the gnu/linux world when it comes to such topics.

http://lxer.com/module/forums/t/29668/

Sadly, not all mainstream gnu/linux news sites carry both sides.

Lefty said...

I wish to heavens Carla had never never ever put her editorial onto the site.

Yeah, where does a woman get off expressing her view of the situation instead of just letting guys like you and "The Beez" here tell her the way things really are?

Anonymous said...

A letter to the women's rights activists attacking the men of the free software movement:
-----------------------------
[quote]
In one of them the 2005 study by Yuwei Lin appears, entitled "Inclusion, diversity and gender equality: Gender Dimensions of the Free/Libre
Open Source Software Development" (PDF). As main points from this study were mentioned:
* "Strong long-hour coding culture * A lack of 'mentors' and role models * Discriminatory language online and/or offline (e.g. phrases in
documentaries) * A gendered text-based environment * Lack of a women-centered view in FLOSS development * A male-dominated competitive
worldview * No sympathy from women peers

'Lack of a women-centered view in FLOSS development'

Robert isn't simply banging a drum but provides quite simple guidelines to promote diversity, and thus a more women-friendly environment, in FOSS communities:

* Recruit diversity, not programming skills ("You can teach programming; you can't teach passion of diversity");

(Kirley Robert)

"""""""Our objective is to increase women's participation in the free software movement and work to make sexism in person or online
unacceptable within our community. Women represent less than 2% of the free software movement, yet our participation is a pre-requisite for the
movements success. Having more women in our community advocating freedom will enrich our movement."""""""""[/quote]
-----------------------------

The OSS movement is a success, without women.
The success of the Free Software movement does not require women:
It allready is a success, and it didn't need women to become one.
The reason women are attacking the men of the free software movment is because
the movement is a success: if it was a failure they would never have seen
it on their radar and the men would not be under assault.

However, they (the women) will succede in making sexism unacceptable in OSS
and recruit "diversity", not programming talent.

IE: If you don't obey them and agree with them: no more commit access to svn, no more acceptance of patches, and, hey, they don't even want you to begin with: you're not diverse (not a woman, or of a minority group that women use as supporters as "oppressed people too" (or at least try to)).

Now, men can fork these projects off.
How will the women counter that?
Will they campaign to change the licenses to something that they can control?
Will they use such ideas of "community" and "respect" and "professional civility" to achieve this. Will they have such projects excluded from distributions?
Probably. If none of this works will they use the legal system against men and companies in the free software movement; yes they will (they have done it in other industries and FOSS is just another subset of life for women's rights to wash over and drown)

Women's rights activists (Carla, Skud, Mekinzie...), you may not see yourself as an enemy of the Free Software Movement, but you are an enemy of the Men who participate in the free software movement.

The women's rights activists wish to conquer this territory and then exclude those men who do not follow their demands or "advice". They have done so allready in the past (See: Ted Walther of Debian: kicked out of the debian distribution as a developer because he said anti-feminist things and the Debain Women did not approve of this).
...

Anonymous said...

...
Nina Reiser chose to become an enemy of Hans Reiser, one of the Men of the Free Software Movement. She committed adultery against him with his best friend, then she divorced him and stole his children (whom he loved), then she went after his meager wealth (most of which he had been using to fund opensource development so that we all might benifit), then after doing all this she visited him (perhaps to articulate legal threats to him and demand payment)... that was too much for him to stand there and do nothing. Now we are less one great developer and contributor to the opensource movement: he doesn't get to code while in prison, nor can he allocate monies towards developer's salaries (because he has none: prison doesn't pay well).

The women of the "geek feminism" movement will be just as effective at excising men from the movement as Nina was at systematically destroying Hans Reiser's life untill he saw no reason, nothing left in his life, that could hold him back from striking back. We will be driven out.
()()()

--MikeeUSA--

tracyanne said...

I'm currently a contributing editor at LXer http://lxer.com. That may change soon, as I cannot guarantee that I can continue to respond civily to the like of Carla Schroder and her followers, given the contempt I feel for the way they have hijacked dialogue surrounding Mark Shuttleworth's speech, and may simply have to resign.

I have now discovered that there has been an apology, by proxy, for some of the things Mark Shuttleworth said in his speech. I disgusted, that he lowe himself to apologies to the baying bullies.

I personally saw nothing wrong with either Mark's double entendre, or his joke about explaining it to the girls, or any other comment he made. Nor for that matter did my partner, her response when shown Mark's speech was "Is that what all the fuss is about... they need to get a life if that's what they are complaining about."

Personally I'm very upset that he would bow to the pressure of these bullies. These thought police, these prissy humourless, lets drain the fun out of life with political correctness nazis.

regards

Tracy Anne Barlow

denizen said...

At last a man whos got the balls to openly question and criticise feminists .good !
feminism has been consistently anti logic/reason and anti science , they try to explain away genders as "social constructs and roles" femininsm is a sham , a collective group manipulation by retarded feminists to get a free meal and cover up their shortcomings.

heres a fantastic site which exposes the absolute lies and hogwash perpetrated by feminists and the mindless male chivallry that allows it !!

www.angryharry.com

A MUST READ FOR EVERY THINKING MAN .
warning : this site is extremely addictive !