My sister and I used to play Lego when we were girls. It was a favorite game until mid-teenage, if not later. We used to build cars, helicopters, statues, trees, bridges, gardens, castles, even animals. Today, I've been looking for a Lego set for my daughter (age six). What a surprise! Apart from the 1-4 years old mixed parts (sold in pink and blue boxes), there is a whole range of Star Wars, Ninja, Disney Cars, Super heroes sets. What if she is not into all this (yet)? The alternative is the barbie-like sets (Lego Friends) for sandwich-making, hair-styling and meeting in a cafe.
Now that's disappointing. What happened with the most favorite and liked company specializing in creativity and imagination for kids of all kinds through construction and building skills? And why is Lego messing up with considering what is Lego for boys and what is Lego for girls? How so it is decided that boys would like playing with ninjas, but not girls? And that only girls like to prepare sandwiches? Ah, and what do sandwiches have to do with building things?
While I was preparing my presentation "Critique féministe de la production des technologies de l'information et de la communication" for the 80'th congress of ACFAS (held this year in Montreal), I was called by the Devoir journalist Hélène Roulot-Ganzmann who considered that the topic was particularly interesting, and wanted to know more.
Why are women minority in the ICT/IT field? Why is the gap widening instead of reducing? Where are women in the I(C)T sector? We discussed in detail all these questions. The journalist, rarely informed before calling, was well aware of most of my work, and also of the technical definitions. I was afraid the article will be over the top, too difficult to explain the basics in such a short time. But I was gladly surprised for the result.
After almost a year of submitting the first draft, my MA thesis is available in a PDF format (sorry, in French only). It will soon be also available as a book format -- if you want a copy, send me your address, and I will mail it to you.
Feel free to download, read, comment -- and please, if you use parts in your own works, quote it properly. To do so, I have left the original table of contents with the right page numbers. The attached PDF has 12 pages more, normally the Introduction should be page 1. If you are not sure, write to me and I will confirm.
Thanks for reading! And twice thanks for commenting.
Une rencontre motivante and impressionante parmi les chercheuses féministes et les groupes des pratiques au Québec a été tenu à l'Université du Québec à Montréal le 28 janvier 2010. Une quarantaine des chercheures et de féministes se sont rassemblées afin de discuter des pistes possibles de collaborations, ainsi que d'échanger de l'information à propos des questions et des actualités de la vie militante et académique.
Among the proposed sessions can be found many interesting ideas: from technical skills, to management and transfer of knowledge, networking and philosophy around women and technology, children and computers, and the future.
Here are my favourites mixes:
Linux, command-line, GIMP, programming, public speaking
Ruby programming, Rails, ways to get more women into programming, teaching programming to kids
I am changing these days. My mind is changing, and my thoughts - with it. I think it is my MA thesis which is changing me. Each day I discover new things around women's contribution to FOSS development, which is sometimes difficult to explain, but is tempting to make it heard by more people. This is why preparing a speech is a birth of a new challenge. It cannot be done months before it is given. And instead of doing my slides in the plane, I kept working on my research. Because the more I advance into the issue, the more what I will talk about will be new.
Today someone asked me why I've cut my t-shirt from all sides and why I didn't like it in its original way. Well, have you ever thought why women wear more rarely geeky t-shirts, the ones that are sold at each hack-fest, including the ones I have from Drupal Camp? Well, here is why: because they are often made in they way: one form fits all. Women seem to care more on how the t-shirt will fit her, and maybe it is about our forms - we are all different!
The Free Society Conference and the Nordic Summit will be taking place this year in Göteborg, Sweden. I was invited by Serengeti community, who wished to make a link between the Free Software movement and the social communities and groups. So each example on how this relation is possible, will be helpful for their workshop. I will speak about how women's movements around the world appropriate Free Software.
I will be also doing a keynote speech on Free Software and Feminism.
November 14, 15h15 for the Free Software and Women Movements track
While the Oekonux conference in Manchester (27-29 March 2009), I was interviewed by Dan Lynch, for their podcast Linux Outlaws. I was nicely surprised the other day, when he wrote to me and told me he added the edited version of it in the 90th podcast, dating from May 6, 2009.
I am about to complete my second chapter of my master's thesis, which covers the context of women's participation in Free and Open Source Software development projects. It is an introduction chapter, which will collect viewpoints from authors who have already written on this topic. My suggestions on how to approach the issue will come at the very end of this part, and also from then on, all the rest of the thesis.
So, for this time, I have made a considerable bibliographic list of articles of researchers and activists under FOSS and Women keywords. Here are some of the most interesting ones:
The Fourth Oekonux Conference has just passed (27-29 March). My lecture was my first actual academic presentation of findings, which I have made in public. There were two feelings at the beginning: enthusiasm and disappointment.
Enthusiasm, because I really wanted to share my work and ideas, and I felt I had moved far from previous popular presentations done at Open Source conferences. I did not like to stick to the "one million dollar question" on WHY there are so few women in Open Source, I actually bypass this issue, and go deeper to see actually WHERE are the women in the FOSS movement, and what specific contributions they provide. Some answers to these questions might actually better motivate FOSS community groups to make efforts and encourage women's participation.
Disappointment, because all the male participants had left for another session (I heard a bit later that I have had a fierce competition with a famous lecturer), and all the female ones have stayed. Few minutes later, it was not so bad, when some late comers joined the conference, and we were actually almost as many women as men in the room.
So, in brief, my 1,5 hours lecture was not recorded, except on my small voice recorder, therefore with very bad quality. I listened to it again, in order to note the questions and the comments made by the participants (the worst part of the recording). So, here they are, in a summarized form, with some of the answers, also in résumé.
Women do valuable work in FOSS development, which is often informal, therefore invisible
Majority of women do the “boring job” in FOSS projects, such as usability, training, documentation...
Women have low confidence in their work, coming mainly from the fact they are not developers by education
Need for minimization of the importance of programming, in order to value the work of “other contributors” and of users, for producing a better and widely spread code.