It assumes that we have an unlimited free will;
It assumes that nature is inherently just, it's just us humans who mess up;
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.
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.
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.