I also read Val Henson's HOWTO on encouraging women to be part of the FLOSS
community, and agree with the main thrust of her message. However, I share
Matt's ambivalence about the advice to liberally dispense compliments. If
a guy only gives a compliment when he really means it, or does so in his
own subtle way, how can we implore him to assuage women's "much lower
self-confidence" [Val's words] without making him feel dishonest?
Having grown up on four continents, I don't take any social conventions for
granted. I maintain that a newcomer has no right to demand that a group
treat him/her according to alien social conventions: that's something that
group members have a right to decide for themselves.
However, I posit that attracting and retaining more women (technical and
non-technical) and non-technical men is more important than keeping the
FLOSS community the way we're used to it, which means the onus is on us to
If you agree with that premise, then there are a couple of ways of looking
1. Give compliments even though you don't like it.
2. Conceive of a broader context that elevates the importance of giving
compliments in a way that doesn't come naturally to you.
So, to Matt and others, whose reticence I completely respect and honour and
Don't cheapen your integrity by giving compliments that you feel are
dishonest, but see if you can conceive of this social convention in a way
that really speaks to you. No-one has the right to tell you "You MUST"
simply to pander to someone else's potential sensibilities, but consider
the usefulness of bridging this communication gap.
Anyway, that's just my two-pence worth.
On Fri, Jan 13, 2012 at 09:36, Matt Giuca <matt.gi...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi all,
>> I came across something while researching for Adacamp about how to
>> encourage women in
>> linux<http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/>- it would also
>> apply to FLOSS in general. As some of the people in
>> Melbourne Free Software have accidentally (all with good intent) done some
>> things that are advised against I thought it would be good to post here,
>> just some stuff to bear in mind :).
> Thanks for posting. I had a quick look through it. While a lot of it is
> common sense, it sounds like common sense that some people need to hear. (I
> hope I'm not among them.) Though I must say, I find some of those points
> fairly demeaning towards women, actually.
> In particular, the "Do compliment" section seems to be suggesting that,
> unlike men, women need an extra special amount of coddling or they will
> give up. It reads a bit like a "woman manual", talking about "her" in the
> third person.
> "If she learned bash scripting more quickly than you did, tell her so.
> Say, "Wow, you learned bash scripting after X months. It took me 2*X months
> to learn that.""
> It seems to be suggesting that men should treat women the way loving
> parents might treat an eight-year-old, shying away from criticism, and
> taking great pains to give self-deprecating compliments. Can't we just
> treat women as fellow hackers?
> (Perhaps I'm just sensitive to that specific style of compliment, as if I
> catch myself using it, I feel dirty afterwards. It seems to implicitly be
> suggesting: "Even I, with my vastly superior knowledge of computing, took
> 2*X months to learn that particular thing. Well done on having bested me in
> this one specific area.")
> Back on the Cory Doctorow topic: That was a great video, Ben, and I
> re-shared it earlier this week.
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