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Sexism at FLOSS Conferences

07 Dec 2006, at the Open Source Developers’ Conference in Melbourne, at a lightning talk session, quoting Why there’s few women in IT, at Richard Jones’ blog:

The conference last week was educational for the committee in a way that was completely unexpected:

Observation 1: During one of the lightning talks a presenter put some porn up on the big screen. He was peripherally discussing a Perl module called Acme::Playmate (which basically looks up Playmate info on the playboy playmate directory).

We (the committee) had never thought it would be necessary to have to explicitly say that it’s not OK to put up porn. Or that we’d have to actively discourage discussing a module that would clearly offend members of the audience.

Observation 2: I was amazed that Acme::Playmate exists in (and is blessed by) CPAN.

I spoke before the keynote the next day apologising to the attendees and our sponsors for what had happened.

Observation 3: Some attendees thought that we had overreacted by even saying anything.
At least one woman walked out the conference. The next morning, the organisers apologised to the attendees and their sponsors for the images.

You can read more, including the guy’s name at Mary Gardiner's blog entry. Quoting:

I gave a 5 minute lightning talk at OSDC entitled Women in FOSS groups [...]. It was mostly an attempt to jam Adam Kennedy‘s lightning talk about Acme::Playmate, which featured lingerie shots of women (and maybe topless shots, I didn’t want to watch it [...]). So mine featured pictures of women, fully clothed, with labels like Linux user and AI researcher.

I still wonder where the slides from the Debian ftp-masters’s talk at Debconf 3 are available from, because of the technical content of the slides was good, only the way it was presented made this ftp-master team like a boys-only club where no women would ever belong. Because it made me want to walkout, but instead I stayed there and almost cried. Update: I found the slides.

Of course, this was 2003, it is all forgotten and forgiven, and Debian, including the speakers that gave this talk, has really changed since The Debian Women Project was started in Brazil, 2004. And I mean really changed. Even the ftp-masters scripts named after Elmo’s Angels were renamed in the latest Dak release (look for “What does each script do” at The DebianEdu ftpmaster-Howto for the cuties names). I am no longer bitter about this. I am even happy it happened because it indeed motivated me to start the whole flamewar, as it even came up on Debian Weekly News - March 9th, 2004.

<peterS> Amaya: as Lincoln once said to Harriet Beecher Stowe: “so you’re the little woman who started this big war”  (/me refers to the now famous -vote thread)

While I sometimes think Debian Women died from success, stories like this remind me why Debian Women is still needed and useful.

Comments

(Anonymous)
Dec. 13th, 2006 12:54 pm (UTC)
That reminds me...
That Etch presently carries the pre-renamed dak.
I've posted an experimental non-maintainer updated version to
http://people.debian.org/~tviehmann/debian/unstable/
but it seems I didn't nag people enough about looking into updating it.