Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Open Source Programming Software

Getting Young Women Interested In Open Source 545

Posted by Soulskill
from the stop-making-them-uninterested dept.
New submitter Jason Baker writes "It seems like a perennial question: 'How do we get more women involved in tech?' The open source community, like any other part of the technology industry, is grappling with finding solutions that are more than just talking the talk of diversity, but actually make some demonstrable difference in the numbers. While there have been numerous success stories, the gender gap is still rampant. The answer, at least to one freelance entrepreneur, is providing strong role models of women using open source to have fun and make money. But is that enough to make a difference?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Getting Young Women Interested In Open Source

Comments Filter:
  • Or... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by E++99 (880734) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:04PM (#46156341) Homepage

    ...we could just let people do whatever the fuck they want to do.

  • by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:11PM (#46156417)

    I think that a lot of them, mainly by happenstance, just aren't interested in that kind of job. It's like asking why most men aren't interested in interior design.

    Men and women have differently wired brains, more news at 11.

    Anyways why is it such a "social problem" that they aren't interested? And I don't think that forcing them to be interested is a good idea either. That is like introducing programs to make more white people interested in hip-hop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:12PM (#46156441)

    You can easily get more women, blacks, homosexuals, Muslims, special needs people, and any other left-wing "diversity" loved group by simply making harder the lifes of the people that can do the actual work - the question is why you should do that...

  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:18PM (#46156503) Homepage Journal

    Grace Hopper, USN Admiral - Creator of COBOL. If she wasn't a geek, nobody is. And she was coding before Open Source, Closed Source were a twinkle in RMS eye.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:20PM (#46156523)

    Probably because it's unhealthy for tech to exclude 52% of the population based on gender. And before you say it's women's choices that keep them out of tech, remember that when everyone around you tells you that you can't do something, typically you choose not to do it.

    There are massive numbers of women who are geniuses, and who could revolutionize tech, but because the industry, and society as a whole thinks that STEM is a man's job, we don't get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    We want more women in tech because it's good for tech.

  • The Life We live (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:23PM (#46156553) Journal

    Spending 8+ hours a day isolated at a computer, forgoing human contact to spend most of your free time researching and learning, interacting with machines and electronics at the lowest and least intuitive levels, willing to be on call almost 24/7--takes a certain constellation of personality traits. For whatever reason, these traits skew male; not entirely, but heavily. You can debate about whether this is cultural, environmental, genetic, or some combination. Open for discussion is even the question if we should be concerned at all. You don't hear the same kind of panic about the lack of men in early education or nursing.

    There are probably as many women in tech as want to be there. What's really stopping them other than themselves and their own preferences?

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:25PM (#46156579) Homepage

    Probably because it's unhealthy for tech to exclude 52% of the population based on gender.

    But that wasn't the proposition. The proposition was how to "get more women interested in open source." If you're talking about excluding women, then fine, if that's actually happening then that's something worth talking about. We shouldn't be excluding people. But why is it necessary to "get people interested"? If they're not interested, then fine, let 'em pursue other interests. It's a big world with lots of options.

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:27PM (#46156607)

    I think you're inadvertently making another important point. Attractive women aren't just distracting. They can completely disrupt many men's brains for long periods.

    I recognize Nixie as smart and insightful. I also can help spending 80% of the time I see her daydreaming about sleeping with her.

    If I had to work with her, this would be a serious problem for me. I'm not saying that's grounds to not hire attractive women, but it might be why I'd have to look for another job myself.

  • the word you are looking for is 'misogynist'.

  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Mighty Buzzard (878441) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:32PM (#46156659)
    Or we could, you know, let people who find open source find it interesting and leave those who don't alone. It beats trying to brainwash children into your own personal vision of how society should be.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:36PM (#46156695) Homepage Journal

    "Men and women have differently wired brains, more news at 11."
    That. Is. False. Stop propagating that myth. Young girls get told that lie, then believe it and don't go into STEM becasue "they aren't wired for it"

    "Anyways why is it such a "social problem" that they aren't interested? "
    That's not the problem, the problem is there are directed away from it, usually by idiots saying things like "Men and women have differently wired brains"

  • by Curunir_wolf (588405) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:39PM (#46156711) Homepage Journal

    yes, she has a Bachelor of Science, just not in STEM, and she has work experience but not in programming.

    So that would be quite a risk for anyone to hire her to do any coding - gender and age has nothing to do with it. You have to start either with internships or be able to show some successes in open source projects. And you still have to be willing to start out making less than you do working in whatever field you currently have experience in.

  • by nevermindme (912672) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:41PM (#46156739)
    There is no glass door, ceiling or anything, anyplace or anywhere. You don't even have to give your real name to be involved in a project. If you cant stand working in a boys club open an account on one of a open project 100 sites, write a doc, compile and make a installer and you can be the top of the FOSS world if you its useful to 20 million people. Write the next app everyone needs, wants and uses daily and then give it away for no reward but complaints from everywhere, then perhaps be the one of hundreds of free products that make a jump to commercial success.
  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ravaldy (2621787) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:46PM (#46156787)

    It always amazes me how we attempts to entice a gender to gain interest into something they generally aren't interested in. Women's brains are wired differently than mens.

    I'm sure the car industry attempted to entice more women into working tech jobs but it just didn't work out. Most women I know end up in social service positions such as teaching, nursing, health and retail. I'm not saying women can't, I'm just saying there's a minority of women that like the industry and it's not lack of trying.

  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Niac (2101) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:50PM (#46156845) Homepage

    This is the problem. Right here. The sexism and harassment that is so common in tech is what turns women off to working in this field. I hate this attitude so much. The point of view that they're there at work for you to hit on is inappropriate and unacceptable. You are part of the problem.

    If you'd like to stop being part of the problem, consider not hitting on your coworkers. Treat them as people, unique and interesting, and engage with them without soliciting a sexual relationship.

  • Fastest Bingo Ever (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:51PM (#46156851)

    Came to win bingo. Was not disappointed. (Which makes me very disappointed.)

    -A Sexist "Joke"
    -"Women don't WANT to be in tech."
    -Free Space
    -"We're all equal!" (stated from a privileged position)
    -"Isn't that REVERSE sexism?"

  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hhw (683423) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:53PM (#46156863) Homepage
    This. Instead of pushing young people towards a certain path, and converting highschools and earlier into trade schools, why not just give them the best, all-rounded education possible and allow them to decide for themselves what they want to do? That's not to say we shouldn't teach them the value of more practical, stable professions vs less marketable ones, but they should ultimately still make that decisions for themselves rather than be goaded into a particular direction.
  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @07:59PM (#46156939)

    I see this statement made all the time, about getting girls in grade school interested in science and technology. Oh, but they aren't interested, because of all that theoretically sexual harassment and sexism they're going to face twenty years into their future!

    Right. Riiiiiight. The same age group that believes being a farmer-astronaut-rockstar-veterinarian is disinterested in science and technology careers, because of an issue they're not even familiar with yet and won't be relevant to them for a decade or two.

  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @08:16PM (#46157083)

    "Men and women have differently wired brains, more news at 11."
    That. Is. False. Stop propagating that myth. Young girls get told that lie, then believe it and don't go into STEM becasue "they aren't wired for it"

    "Anyways why is it such a "social problem" that they aren't interested? "
    That's not the problem, the problem is there are directed away from it, usually by idiots saying things like "Men and women have differently wired brains"

    You don't know it to be false anymore than the commentors know it to be true. Especially considering studies that assert there are differences in, if not behavior, possible wiring of brains between the sexes. That isn't to say they are conclusively "wired differently", but it's bullshit for you to dismiss it as "propagating a myth".

    http://www.scientificamerican.... [scientificamerican.com]

    How about the myth you seem to be propagating? That somehow men and women only populate the fields of interests and careers they do, because of big meanies imposing sexist and genderist constructs upon them during their formative years? That the only reason little johnny wants to be a kung-foo-astronaut-scientist-president at the age of ten is because the sexist society which surrounds him does not allow him to want to be a movie-star-princess-ballerina-nurse-stay-at-home-dad. That left to their own devices and interests, the distribution of genders would be perfectly even across the spectrum. This might be a fair assertion, were it not for real world experience. I mean, in a vacuum, where we look upon humanity as if we were some alien life-form visiting this unfamiliar species.

    Also, could you introduce me to these parents and siblings and family and friends and teachers and rest of society who are going around telling young women that they can't be interested in science or engineering or programming? Especially in this day and age? I have yet to really meet any of these people, but they must be absolutely everywhere -- like closet racists or something -- since they apparently have such a monumental impact on the world.

  • by lavamind (1111431) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @08:20PM (#46157119)
    Really tired of hearing the same "but it's their choice" rhetoric about women in tech. The fact is, women's brains aren't more or less "wired" for anything, and most preferences are learned through socialising. I'm sure plenty love tech, programming, gaming and everything, but simply can't stand the "community", where misogynistic bullshit is unfortunately the norm rather than the exception. And I'm not just talking about outright exclusion, but harrassement, sexist joking around, stereotyping, etc. But don't take it from me, ask any group of women already involved in open-source about the challenges they face daily. In fact, that's just what most everyone in tech fails to do : listen to them and take them seriously (including the criticism).
  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @08:27PM (#46157189)

    So you want your daughter to be a tech blogger that quotes press releases from the latest cell phones and tablets and throws out occasional tech tips or howtos for a living? Regardless of gender, the whole gizmodo/engadget type of profession doesn't really qualify as a STEM career in my mind. It's like saying that someone assigned to reporting on local crime for the local paper is in the law enforcement career.

    If people really need role models (I don't really know why they do, but okay), then maybe someone like Jeri Ellsworth [wikipedia.org] would be a more compelling one? Someone who doesn't make her living regurgitating current tech news and subjects for a crappy blog or youtube videos, but actually -- you know -- makes stuff. Using a strong engineering and mathematical and science background to do so.

  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @08:40PM (#46157327)
    Your inability to control yourself is really more of a reason to not have you around, not avoid having her around.
  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:00PM (#46157483)

    This is the problem. Right here. The sexism and harassment that is so common in tech is what turns women off to working in this field.

    Except that is complete nonsense. Engineering is one of the least sexist professions. Have you even been around salesmen? Yet women have no problem working in the sales dept. Read up on the amount of harassment women endured to work in law firms, or police departments. I have never seen or heard of anything like that in a tech company.

    Where I work we have had dozens of complaints about sexual harassment in sales, shipping, even accounting. But never once in engineering.

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:18PM (#46157655) Homepage

    Quilting?

    I am so tired of these "how can we get women interested in... " subjects. Science. Math. Programming. Uncle. Women will be interested in those things when it actually interests them. In many ways these discussions are totally degrading towards women as it makes things out to be that "if only we could show them...." or "if we only gave them a leg up..." Do you think women are stupid? They can't figure out what they like or don't like? Or that without preferential treatment they will go elsewhere?

  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:48PM (#46157885)

    Where I work we have had dozens of complaints about sexual harassment in sales, shipping, even accounting. But never once in engineering.

    Don't you know? Absence of evidence of sexual harassment is evidence of covered-up sexual harassment.

  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @09:53PM (#46157913)
    Why, exactly, "should" we try to get people to do what they don't want to do?
  • by Nemyst (1383049) on Tuesday February 04, 2014 @10:00PM (#46157961) Homepage
    I'll preface this by saying I do not know Nixie Pixel at all. My first impression however was quite negative and for one particular reason: when I come to a site looking for a person's ideas and thoughts, I don't want to see cartoons of the person peering at me (in revealing clothing even) and pictures of her face everywhere on the page. I also very much doubt that a persona similar to this, but male, would use the same sort of techniques to drag an audience in.

    She might be great at what she does, but by openly flaunting herself in this manner I'm more put off than attracted frankly. I love smart people, people with ideas, be they men or women. If they're also good looking, all the better for them, but that's entirely orthogonal for me (unless I'm looking for a date, which I most certainly am not when I click on links on /.) and associating one with the other just... cheapens it. Like they're insecure about their content so they feel the need to add some more hooks in.
  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:21AM (#46159241) Journal
    When I was a kid in the 60's we had specific "library classes" where we learnt how to research an arbitrary topic using a library. This class has been largely replaced by the "computer class", in both cases the important lessons are about "how to research", the specific tools you use in school will likely be largely forgotten by society when you're an adult. Dewey decimal anyone?

    Modern life demands a certain level of computer literacy, public schools should provide that and offer a path to more advanced levels. Faimiliarity with the "big four" (word processors, spreadsheets, databases, browsers) comes under basic computer literacy in my book.

    As a degree qulified software developer with 20+yrs in the industry I say with all sincerity that if you know how to use formulas in a spreadsheet, then you already know "how to code", like playing a piano the rest is mostly style and practice.
  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:32AM (#46159329)

    There are innate behavioral differences in the genders that have neurological roots.. It's obvious even in very early childhood. Any child psychologist can tell you this. It's only the cultural marxists who think everything is a 'social construct' that can and should be monkeyed with. There is a continuum where these traits overlap, so there are some men and some women who prefer traits of the opposing gender, but they are a small percentage of the population...and yes, they're welcome to pursue whatever they want.

    In the same way a bible thumping baptist father cannot beat the gay out of his son, political correctness cannot beat the feminine out of women, or the masculine out of men.. Well they can to some degree, but not without serious long term consequences to society.

  • Re:I'm male but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jiro (131519) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:37AM (#46159357)

    Better than that, many religions are *blatantly* sexist, and yet more women go to church than men.

  • Re:Uh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phmadore (1391487) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @02:14AM (#46159557) Homepage Journal
    Women who get tired of unsolicited bullshit and the locker room antics in a professional environment are not "humorless cunts" and the things they perceive as offensive are not "jokes." As geeks, we should have no trouble understanding how they feel. Often, I think that his sort of idiotic and certainly unrealistic machoism is actually a result of having never been able to say these sorts of things in a real situation before.

    Those are the two most likely explanations for his behavior, that's how I came to that conclusion.
  • Re:Uh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:16AM (#46159825)

    It's interesting how women's sensitivity doesn't seem to stop them from engaging in exactly the same behaviors towards men, at work, on tv, in movies, in music, (recently in games too), the law, college campuses (eg pulling fire alarms at toronto university), and pretty much everywhere else. When challenged about this hypocrisy, they respond with shaming language. It's hard to feel sympathy for a group that routinely engages in the same behaviors it complains about.

    Perhaps the reality is that both genders behave this way from time to time, and as adults, we should just let it roll off our backs and get back to work so that they are paid for it.. After all, the definition of 'professional' is someone who is paid for their work, not someone suffering from delusional solipsistic narcissism.

  • Re:Uh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ybanrab (2556762) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:13AM (#46161341)
    Men objectify women as sexual objects, women objectify men as disposable objects.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

    'The first step to remedying a problem is admitting that it exists.'
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:58PM (#46165243) Homepage

    She seems to know her stuff. I show some of her videos to my daughter.

    If someone cannot separate their libido from their technical and work related duties, then the problem is not Nixie Pixel's.

    Does she lose credibility because she's attractive? I dunno. If anything, I'm more critical of the bubble-headed, "I played ResEvil so I'm a geek grrl!! lol" type. And actually, those types irritate the crap out of me. But looking at her vids, she has technical knowledge that's no worse than many others that I respect.

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing for money.

Working...