I've been in the IT industry for over 27 years now. I first was introduced to Linux almost 12 years ago, I've really been a part of the Linux community for over nine years now. You'd think in that time things would have gotten better for women in IT in general and the Linux community in particular. There are certainly more of us in IT and Linux than there were a decade ago, right? I think the answer to the second question is yes, more women are involved. I think the first question, sadly, is answered with a resounding "NO!". Women still have to be better than their male counterparts to be respected or even hired and we still earn less than our male counterparts. There are all sorts of reasons why that is true but sexism, both quiet and overt, is still a huge part of it.
Carla Schroder blogs for the O'ReillyNet Linux Dev Center, as I do. Over the past three days she has posted twice. The first post told of and linked to details and a photo of a truly sexist and offensive ad which appeared in Linux Journal. The second post linked directly to a Linux Journal article from earlier this year filled with more gender stereotyping demonstrating that this is an ongoing issue at Linux Journal. I had dropped my subscription to the magazine last year after receiving the magazine in my mailbox every month for eight years. As a female Linux Professional I felt they had sent me many clear messages that I just wasn't part of their target audience.
The reactions to Carla's posts were entirely predictable. I see some, both men and women, but mostly men, who clearly GET IT. They understand why this is unprofessional and why some, both men and women, would be offended.
I see some men who want to tell us uppity women what to feel, why we shouldn't be offended, why Carla shouldn't have blogged about this, why the ad is funny or effective or generally no big deal. They JUST DON'T GET IT. They don't get that offending women, who happen to be just over half of the human race and a significant minority of IT decision makers, is just plain bad business. They don't get, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that men are offended too. If they don't see the problem it just doesn't exist. They are part of the problem.
We have a few, thankfully very few, who have the immature mentality typically seen on Slashdot whenever gender comes up. The usual attack on feminism is thrown in. CLUE: "Feminism is the radical idea that women are people too." It's about equality and equal treatment, nothing more.
One even resorts to the Rush Limbaugh "feminazi" name calling. That post is even more offensive that the ad, not just because I'm a woman and a feminist. It bothers me most as the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. The Nazis committed genocide, murdering 12 million people, including 6 million Jews and 3 million Romani (gypsies) in death camps. The term "feminazi" either equates the struggle for women's rights with genocide (I don't seriously think anyone believes that) or else it trivializes the Holocaust. Either way it's incredibly offensive and yet it's used to tell me I'm wrong for being offended.
HUGE CLUE: You can't tell Carla or me or any other human being how we should feel or react to something. We are entitled to our own feelings and our own free speech. You have a right to feel differently, of course. You don't have a right to silence us. Oh, and since Carla was kind enough to provide multiple links to people who also were offended and since so many commenters to Carla's post agreed with her I think it's safe to say that the ad offended a LOT of people.
Music choices, last three days.:
Steve Roach & Vidna Obmana - Inner Zone
Eno, Moebius, Roedelius - After The Heat
Tangerine Dream - Phaedra
Kluster - Klopfzeichen
Neu! - '72 Live! In Düsseldorf