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Thread: Why are there so few women in Linux?

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Oct 2003

    Why are there so few women in Linux?

    I'm not sure how many of you have mandrake 9.1 or have the docs installed but I was searching for user permission documentation and saw this nice little doc titled "Why are there so few women in Linux?" now
    if I was a chick I would probably be offended but it does offer some valid points that Linux is a male dominated

    If you have the docs installed check it out here file:/usr/share/doc/HOWTO/HTML/en/Encourage-Women-Linux/x106.html

    Some of the highlights of the article:

    2.1. Women are less confident

    Women severely underestimate their abilities in many areas, but especially with respect to computers. One study about this topic is Undergraduate Women in Computer Science: Experience, Motivation, and Culture: http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~gendergap/p.../sigcse97.html

    For example, while 53% of the male computer science freshman rated themselves as highly prepared for their CS courses, 0% of the female CS freshman rated themselves similarly. But at the end of the year, 6 out the 7 female students interviewed had either an A or B average. Objective ratings (such as grade point averages or quality and speed of programming) don't agree with most women's self-estimation. I personally encountered this phenomenon: Despite plenty of objective evidence to the contrary, including grades, time spent on assignments, and high placement in a programming contest, I still didn't consider myself to be at the top of my class in college. Looking back objectively, it seems clear to me that I was performing as well or better than many of the far more confident men in my class.
    2.2. Women have fewer opportunities for friendship or mentoring

    Like any other discipline, computer science is easier to learn when you have friends and mentors to ask questions of and form a community with. However, for various reasons, men usually tend to mentor and become friends with other men. When the gender imbalance is as large as it is in computer science, women find themselves with few or no other women to share their interests with. While women have male friends and mentors, it's often harder and more difficult for women to find a community and then to fit in with it. Many women leave the field who would have stayed if they had been male.

    It's true that this is a feedback loop, fewer women in computing leads to fewer women in computing. It's important to understand that this feedback loop causes women to leave computing who wouldn't have left if, all other things being equal, they had been men. This is important because male classmates often assume their female counterparts leave the field because they "just aren't good enough." Women's low self-estimation contributes to this false impression.
    2.5. Lack of female role models

    Women in computing do exist, but most people aren't lucky enough to meet a female computer scientist. Women are socialized to be modest and avoid self-promotion, which makes them even less visible than they might otherwise be. Mothers and female schoolteachers regularly protest that they don't know anything about computers. As a result, girls grow up without examples of women who are either competent or confident with computers. I encourage all women in computing to be as visible as possible--accept all interviews, take credit publicly--even when you don't want to. You may be embarrassed, but by allowing yourself to be publicized or promoted, you might change a young girl's life.
    2.9. Reasons women avoid Linux specifically

    Linux development is more competitive and fierce than most areas of programming. Often, the only reward (or the major reward) for writing code is status and the approval of your peers. Far more often, the "reward" is a scathing flame, or worse yet, no response at all. Since women are socialized to not be competitive and avoid conflict, and since they have low self-confidence to begin with, Linux and open source in general are even more difficult than most areas of computing for women to get and stay involved in.

    Again these are just some highlights of the doc that was provided. I thought it was kind of humours and they did have some valid points. I only know of a couple girls at my college that are hard core programmers I'm gonna mention this to them to see what they say tommorow but if they're are any womens on this board what do you think about this?

  2. #2
    AO Soccer Mom debwalin's Avatar
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    Mar 2002
    When I took my MCSE courses, there was 1 other girl in my class. We were treated as the class mascots...."oh, aren't they cute, look at the girls trying to understand this stuff." Then when we kicked their asses on every test, every exam, every homework assignment...their attitudes changed, and not for the better. Computers are a field where men are very competitive, and the majority of men (in my experience) are willing to help and share their knowledge...up to a point. When they begin to see you as "competition", suddenly the willingness to help ends, very abruptly, and usually unpleasantly. And when there are so few women in the field, it makes it hard to find someone to help you learn what you need to learn, and as wonderful as reading and researching is, it's not the same as having someone help you thru the parts you don't understand. It begins to just get frustrating, and we quit. Speaking strictly for myself. And even here, a female can ask the exact same question a man does, and 9 times out of 10, her question goes unanswered, or she is ridiculed for not knowing it, when the males question will be answered, with a hale fellow well met type of attitude. It's frustrating to say the least.
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  3. #3
    BIOS Bomber
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    Jul 2003
    Thats so sexist. I hate things like that. After reading through some very old posts here i have foudn a few others. Sweet_Angel is a *NIX girl, and lets not forget morgan webb from tech TV, shes a Linux girl. And also, i think its linuxchicks.com or .org something, its a whole website ran by Linux girls.

    on a brighter side, i found this website just now and i have to say its one of the best iv seen so far. im still searching it right now but the layout is great and i love how they have it designed. check it out:


    another thing, all the linux girls here, reply to this thread!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! because a girl with a Tux shirt is sooooo sexy.
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  4. #4
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    Oct 2002
    Yes, Deb has it right. All men are dogs. Well, 9 out of 10, anyway. Do I detect a hint of male-bashing?

    I guess it's true though, we don't want to be beat by a woman. Blame that on the society we grew up in. Some of us are trying to change it, but it's a very hard attitude to break.

    In a security course with ~30 people, I think 5 of us are female. That's better than most ratios I've seen in programming and engineering courses, although web design tends to attract a lot more women. But it does seem to me that we all get along fine, even though we all tend to be quite competitive with eath other. But maybe that's just us youngsters now. Hopefully then we will one day change the world for the better.

    I'm actually promoting my program for the open house coming up in a couple of weeks and that's one of my priorities - to attract more women into the program (although I may have more than the above stated reasons). We're hoping for a a ratio of 1 woman for every 3 men.

    The difficult part, in my experience, is convincing women that they are able to do this job just as well as men. In most cases they don't believe it either.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Yes but if you were to ask a question then I would try to come up with a answer. The same goes with everyone else who posts here male or female, online or off. But I think its rather different in a office enviroment though. Peaple get impatient, rude, greedy... and it happends very quickly sometimes. Meanwhile other times someone waits to stab you in the back. Infact I think anyone who wears a suit and tie is a potential *******... but thats just me. When money is involved then the impatience, rudeness, & greed all hightens by ten fold.

    Sometimes even I get discriminated just because im still a fairly young guy & because I refuse to look like agent Smith like the rest of those IT *******s.

  6. #6
    well me thinks women dunno like penguins just as the don't like me !!!

  7. #7
    Junior Member
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    Nov 2002
    That was a sad story tejaswyappalla! =P
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  8. #8
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2003
    Hey Hey,

    First of all this should be in GCC because it's by no means a security discussion. I'd think that'd be obvious.

    Now in regards to women in IT. The IT division at my college has a few female profs, but they are outnumbered by men. However with 6 courses a semester, 2 of them (33%) are taught by female profs, or at least that's how the numbers have worked out so far. As for students, between our two programs CTN/CTY (2 year/3 year) there are around 145 students. In the CTY portion there are 4 girls, in CTN there are fewer. When we started first year, there were 200 of us and there were 7 girls in CTY and like 4 or 5 in the CTN program. The program is obviously male dominated. The only course with a large female population in our IT division is the Office Admin course (secretarial training) other than that, there's no more than a dozen girls in any program. This is the 3rd year of this program (first graduating class will leave this year) and our class does have an increase over the first year class and I've noticed that in the first year group there are more women than there were last year. The number are rising, but not at an extraordinary rate, it is actually a rather slow increase.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2002
    Originally posted here by |The|Specialist
    Yes but if you were to ask a question then I would try to come up with a answer. The same goes with everyone else who posts here male or female, online or off. But I think its rather different in a office enviroment though. Peaple get impatient, rude, greedy... and it happends very quickly sometimes. Meanwhile other times someone waits to stab you in the back. Infact I think anyone who wears a suit and tie is a potential *******... but thats just me. When money is involved then the impatience, rudeness, & greed all hightens by ten fold.

    Sometimes even I get discriminated just because im still a fairly young guy & because I refuse to look like agent Smith like the rest of those IT *******s.
    Heh heh, what the hell is wrong with the Grisley Adams look anyway?? I can relate. I would say damn the man, but it wouldn't do any good. I don't want to bother with pruning myself like a freakin' rose bush, or trying to, lmao, bleach my tips to look like Ricky Martin.

    To the point of the thread. . .guys treat each other like crap too, it's just that, since we are the same gender and have grown up w/ the behaviors, we know what to expect. It's the few males that don't take a step back (yeah I know, this could be reverse sexism, but it's life) and realize that they are interacting w/ a female that give the rest of us a bad name. Men like to dominate. I don't hold to the whole 'old fashionedness ' being taught tenant either. It's in our make up, I'd like to consider myself different, but I'm not. The first time I interact w/ a strange male, it's always a game of push and pull to see where each other stands. Determine the playing field, what can we discuss with equal interest? Then it comes down to who can dominate the conversation, in public anyway. The thing that pisses me off is that a lot of women can interact in the same ways, they know how the game works, they play it with their girlfriends, but they don't and cry lack of leverage b/c those guys that give us a bad name like to use their 'physical presence' as a chip to intimidate women. When two guys confront each other, it leads to, even if subconscious, to who, if at all, will throw, and will the other buck up. This is where women have an advantage, if a guy is thinking in the normal patterns, a woman is competley safe and can cross lines that I can't, b/c if I said the same thing they might, it could lead to a physical confrontation. This is of course my own retarded opinion and should be taken as a rant.

    As far as the the article goes. . when your dealing with stats, especially on a subjective topic, when a study is conducted, the way you analyse the data will always skew the results. . .b/c you are looking for an outcome, specific or otherwise. Sure, only 18% of graduates for CS degrees were women, but how many graduated compared to men w/ a liberal or fine arts degree. You can say, yeah, see that's the system in action, but how many of the 'great' artists, you know, the ones you had to learn about in the required art appreciation class you had to take for your 'core' classes were women? To the whole self rating section on whether the student felt they were prepared or not, pah. This one comes down to gender differences too, women, imo, are more likely to claim unreadiness and then look better in the afterlight when they do well, while men feel better when they project an egoist, I knew I would attitude.

    To Specialist, I'm the exact opposite. . .if I'm at work, I'm the first to offer a hand and help, let 'em stab away, I don't care, the decisions at work, or at least mine, are case by case and whatever decision you make stands as 'the way it is going to work'. If you post on this forum people can pluck at what you said and get something completley different from what you meant, then you would have to spend time, which I don't want to, in clarifying yourself.

    I would go into the rest of the artivle, but I only have a few more hours before I have to wake up, heh heh, guess that means I need to sleep first, though.

    I just realized I hadn't really touched on the jist of the topic, if you want to get into the whole congnative lateralized argument, woman are by nature more prone to 'right brained' (emotional, intuative, artistic<-- proven by studies on the size of the different hemispheres of the brain b/w genders) behaviors then men are. Until we encourage more women to think otherwise, men will dominate the IT field, but just like female athletics, the more you provide, the more people (women) will partake.
    Every now and then, one of you won't annoy me.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Oct 2003
    Dont believe the statistics that you read.. Woman can do anything just as good as guys do. I was always taught to treat everyone equally. Whenever I am doing a project or anything that requires work I would rather do it in a group with girls. You may be asking why? Well girls always do their work instead of wasting their time and they always seem to get it done faster. As for getting really good study notes,, well I have learned that girls are very very good when jotting things down. So instead of me having to search and go through my papers I just ask my girl friends if I can borrow their notes for a day. Really helps.
    I think that maybe it also might be, because of how girls are taught how to be. You know like some parents telling them oh when you grow up you have to cook and clean and that's your job. I think that that is really dumb.
    That's just this boys point of view who came from a little country in Central America ...

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