[kde-community] FOSDEM Organisation

Eike Hein hein at kde.org
Mon Dec 8 23:41:11 GMT 2014

On 12/08/2014 11:33 PM, Laszlo Papp wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 10:02 PM, Alex Merry <alex.merry at kde.org> wrote:
>> As Valorie said, if you want more female talk submissions,
> I am afraid that I am personally not yet sure whether I wish that. I
> am not going to those places and events to see beautiful ladies, get
> dates later and the like. What I personally would like is the most
> qualified submissions. Whether that happens to be from a male, female,
> etc, that does not matter so much to me. When I visit these
> conferences I would like to have the best technical experience and
> then the socialization as the secondary trait. Even then, I do not
> mind what gender I am socializing with.
> I hope that this effort for fixing the "gender ratio" will not
> compromise the quality of the conferences. I personally believe more
> in meritocracy than "genderocracy". Therefore, I would rather put the
> effort into attracting world-wide and recognized industry and
> community experts than ladies just for the sake of being females.
> I agree about the CoC, however, gender independently. This is not such
> a big concern for me, but I appreciate that if it is for some other
> people. I have personally never seen the QtCS, Qt dev days, etc, code
> of conducts either and they were amazing events. Qt dev days in Munich
> (2011?) had many ladies around, too. Either way, If the organizers can
> do something to make the attendants feel comfortable without too much
> extra work, I think they ought to try.

A few thoughts on that:

* The above diatribe is largely an example of yesterday's conflict.
   If you look at the gender ratio in CS courses at universities
   today, or the gender ratio in demographically younger work forces
   in companies, the gender ratio has already shifted. Ours hasn't by
   as much, though, which means we're starting to miss out on tapping
   into available talent, which we should definitely care about for
   open source to remain competitive. These kinds of efforts don't
   exist as let's-pat-ourselves-on-our-backs feel-good initiatives
   anymore. I recommend treating it as a PR and recruitment problem:
   We want to be more attractive to female contributors simply for
   the health of our contributor base. And I think we should be in-
   tentionally aggressive about pursuing that talent.

* And that PR problem is real. I've been interacting with young,
   bright, female recent CS graduates a bunch of times this year,
   and especially the older FOSS communities tend have a rap of being
   stuffy, kind of off-putting boys' clubs. I recommend stepping
   outside the bubble now and then -- you might be surprised how
   others perceive you. It's not a nice experience.

* In a broader industry context, one of the main things KDE cares
   about is making socially responsible software. Using open source
   licenses, or caring about lowering power usage - many things we do
   are about technology palatable for society, instead of being a
   burden on it. Technology is also a main driver of change in the
   job market right now, causing numerous professions to grow
   obsolete. Tech-related careers remain - for now - as one in a
   dwindling field of options that promise self-supporting employ-
   ment. I think there's an argument for caring about the industry-
   wide gender ratio in that context, because as we head into these
   future problems, a world in which unemployment is heavily corre-
   lated with gender would be Pretty Damn Bad. As I'd like open
   source to scale to industry-size, I think it'd be nice to work
   on these things on our turf.


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