FSCONS 2009 part 2 Free Software and Feminism

Sunday morning begins at nine with the keynote Free Software and Feminism given by Christina Haralanova. Despite the party last night, the earliness of the hour and the difficulties in getting to the venue on a Sunday there is a good audience which shows the dedication and interest of this public to their cause. Haralanova asks why are there still so few women into technology. One answer is that they are discouraged and opposed. Boys have first contact at 12, girls 14.5 their first own computer boys at 15 girls at 19.

The social aspects of technology prove to be the key. The introduction to technology as toy for the boys provides them with a reason to interact with technology and share & discuss them with their friends. But since women begin later they do not have the confidence and the space to share and discuss. Naturally this then develops and is reinforced within the groups of tecchies and non-tecchies alike. Women are often subjected to jokes/insults and their contributions to projects are subjected to a more scrutiny.

As in many other aspects of life the contribution of men and women are not valued equally. This means that men are the coders while women are the documenters, teachers, promotors, gui-designers etc. We may have computers and Free Software but we still have not left the caves and hunting mammoths with rocks and sticks! The role of women is marginalized and made invisible – a role which re-inforces the negative position. By this we all lose.

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