Archive for December, 2010

Harassment at FOSS Conferences

10th December 2010

I recommend you go and read Valerie Aurora’s article on harassment at FOSS conferences on LWN.net.  It’s grim stuff, but also a positive piece – looking at how to improve things.

I’d like to think that this sort of thing doesn’t happen at KDE events, but I guess everyone like to think well of their own community.  And I don’t mean that I’d like to think no harassment happens at an event as large as Akademy, say – I’m not that naïve.  But I would like to think that KDE’s atmosphere is one that welcomes everyone, not just men, and doesn’t tolerate such behaviour.

Is this really the case, though?  I don’t think that I’m in a position to answer that, being a man and not having attended many KDE events.  It’s not something I’ve ever experienced or come across, but there’s no reason I should have.  The antipathetic response to Stallman’s “EMACS virgins” quip at GCDS 2009 didn’t really inspire me with confidence on this front, however.  There was outrage, sure, but it certainly wasn’t universal.

What is clear is that the wider software industry and community has issues attracting and retaining women.  While this is a larger problem that we can’t solve on our own, what we can do is make sure that everyone is welcome in our FOSS communities, providing they are willing to get involved, and that we don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable.

So I’m asking some questions: what do we need to do to make this a reality, at least within KDE?  How far away from this are we?  Where do we need to focus our efforts?  I’d be especially interested in hearing from women in KDE on this, as you will have first hand experience of the issues.


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