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View Full Version : Thoughts on why women should be, but aren't so, attracted to Ubuntu



Symo
May 25th, 2006, 02:15 PM
I've been reading in this part of the Ubuntu forum that there aren't as many women in the community as men. I'm not really surprised although when you stop to think about it, it should be surprising. The Ubuntu community (and the whole open source movement, I think) seems to have a lot more in common with matriarchical structures than patriarchical ones. I've only been an Ubuntu user for just over a week but if what I've read and seen is right then Ubuntu is about cooperation, helping other individuals, creating bonds and nurturing the community. These qualities are the opposite of competition and quests for personal gain in more male dominated societies.

Of course, I'm not saying that all women are supportive nurturers and all men competitive individualists here - the Ubuntu community is dominated by males and has been built up by mostly men which disproves such generalisations - what I'm talking about is masculine and feminine qualities but which can be found in either sex. It's just that masculine qualities predominate in (most) males and feminine qualities predominate in (most) females.

In any case, you'd think that more women would be attracted to Ubuntu for this reason. You know, that the spirit of Ubuntu would resound in the hearts of women more. Since it doesn't (or, at least, hasn't yet) then I suppose it's because of the technical aspects of computers and computing. Technical, mathematical, logical and abstract thought are more masculine in quality. Even if many women could feel more at home in a cooperative and equal society, I guess the idea of one revolved around something so dry as computers is probably off-putting.

Anyway, I was just thinking and thought I'd write this and hear what others have to say on the subject.

In finishing, I just want to say that I think the Ubuntu women initiative is a good thing and I really hope it succeeds in achieving it goals. Balance and equality should be strived for in all aspects of life, I think.

tribaal
May 25th, 2006, 03:17 PM
Well your analysis sounds pretty well thought (notice, I didn't say you were right or wrong).

However you didn't mention the fact that Ubuntu is linux, and wether we like it or not, the majority of people using linux have a pretty strong tech background.
And well, wether we like it or not, the computer sciences departments all around the globe still have a majority of men.
This is changing hopefully, and we do see more and more women in the community, but they are still a minority, that's true.

So all in all, your analysis might be right, but I think to attract women to our community we need to find a way to attract women to computers in general :)

Ah well, hope this does not turn into a flamewar :(

- trib'

Joey French
May 25th, 2006, 03:24 PM
Linux Format did an article a bit ago about this very issue. You may want to pick it up, give it a read.

Titus A Duxass
May 25th, 2006, 03:27 PM
The majority of women are simply not attracted to Computers let alone Linux.

I reckon that most would not notice the difference between Windows and Kubuntu.

"Of course, I'm not saying that all women are supportive nurturers and all men competitive individualists here - the Ubuntu community is dominated by males and has been built up by mostly men which disproves such generalisations - what I'm talking about is masculine and feminine qualities but which can be found in either sex. It's just that masculine qualities predominate in (most) males and feminine qualities predominate in (most) females." - How much coffee have you drunk today? (humour! not dig!).

djheadley
May 25th, 2006, 07:04 PM
And then there are those who don't want to be identified either way.

I have been working in computers since 1987 and have seen women programmers relegated to data entry positions while the men were put right to work as programmers. This was right out of college. I think it may be better now but I don't think by much.

:(

aysiu
May 25th, 2006, 07:15 PM
Most women I know have never heard of Ubuntu. Neither have most men I know.

So the only way they would probably know about Ubuntu is by knowing about Linux, which means they're a bit more tech-savvy or tech-inclined than your average person.

http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/index.html

chadk
May 25th, 2006, 07:46 PM
My wife was using my computer while she waited for me to fix her doze box and I ended up building her a new sysetm. She requested I put Ubuntu on it instead of doze. A few days on my PC was all it took.

Lord Illidan
May 25th, 2006, 07:50 PM
In many places, computing is a man's world. It is stereotypical.

I'll take Malta as an example. In my school, there are two computing classes. One for the students taking Pure Maths and Computing, and another for students taking Accounts and Computing.

In each of these computing classes, one finds about 13-15 people.

There are only 2 girls.

The majority are all found in the arts courses, taking English, Italian, and other languages...

I am not saying that girls do not have the capacity to use computers, my sister can use a computer quite well, or are stupid, definitely not. But society doesn't let them be geeks, I think.

For my part, I welcome women in the world of Linux.

jdusablon
May 26th, 2006, 04:27 AM
My wife uses Mac OS 10.4, and likes it. She's been using it for a year now. She doesn't seem to like using the XP boxes at her school quite as much, but on the other hand, isn't really all that interested in my installing linux on the mac.

My point is this...if I had STARTED her with linux, she probably would have learned that instead...and been fine with it. To her, the computer is a tool. She doesn't care whether it's OS 10.4 or SUSE.

She has no idea why I like to "geek out" so much, nor does she understand my applauding compiz as a great innovation, even if I think compiz would help people get a better grasp on computing. She logs on, she uses the web, word processing, iPod updating, etc. and that's where it ends for her.

I notice that most women lack the interest in things technological, gadgets and software... they only seem to use them if they can benefit from them. To be honest, I suppose most men are like that too.

mozza314
May 26th, 2006, 08:01 AM
Perhaps you could compare the percentage of women users in ubuntu to the percentage of women users in another distribution of linux without the women-like values.

I would agree that its just because you generally need to be into computers to know about linux, and mostly males are into computers. But even if you know about it, I think its really because Windows is so widespread and because its used by a majority, the women (mostly) keep it simple and stick with windows.

Lin-X
May 27th, 2006, 11:52 PM
DJHeadley hit the nail right on the old noggin. I hear all the time "gee, there just aren't many women in IT" and it makes me furious. There ARE women in IT, plenty of them. Mostly, they are called secretaries or data clerks and are paid horrendously low wages for the same work men do who are called IT Administrators or IT Techs or some such title. I have a close friend who worked for an insurance company as a "secretary"; her job was to maintain the lan, the computers on it, all the printers, purchase software, make minor computer repairs, and instruct other employees in new software usage. All this piled up gradually until she was really the IT Administrator. When she asked for a raise because of it, her boss scolded her for being "silly". She quit. This sort of thing epidemic in the work field. Next time you look at the want ads, notice all the jobs for "receptionist --- must have a thorough knowledge of MSOffice, bookkeeping, and desktop publishing." For a receptionist!? When I told one of my instructors at the college that I had been using Linux for several years, he blinked as if I had splashed ice water in his face, and said, "Where did YOU get Linux?" As if it were some kind of secret. I have experienced open hostility from male students in my tech classes and even from male instructors. Commonly, the male teachers conduct these classes as if they were private boys clubs, flat out ignoring or "not hearing" female students. They do the thing where the female's comment is wrong but a few minutes later, when a guy says the same thing, it's a sign of genius. Sorry to go on and on. I could fill this whole forum with experiences I have had or have witnessed of the crappy treatment of women in IT. By the way, a happy ending for my friend: she landed a very high level position at another company; they have no idea that she knows anything about computers. She says if they found out, she would be right back where she was: doing it all for no extra pay.

aysiu
May 28th, 2006, 12:01 AM
I don't see why you're furious about what people have said.

They've described a real phenomenon, and you've described a real phenomenon, but the two are distinct phenomena.

You're talking about the amount of computer knowledge certain women who are not given the lofty title IT Administrator are required to know.

I think other people are referring to the after-effects of the classroom intimidation you describe--when it comes to computer science (actual programming--not just the mastery of user interfaces in software training and administration) women are, in fact, under-represented. When people say "there aren't that many women in IT," that's what they're talking about, and the numbers back them up.

Now, you can explain why there aren't that many in IT (specifically programming and computer science), but that doesn't mean there aren't. In fact, people have written whole books about them. I'd recommend Unlocking the Clubhouse: Women in Computing by Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher, which doesn't deny that women are underreprented in IT but tries to examine the reasons they are underrepresented and give some suggestions for how to change the current state of affairs.

Getting angry with people who make real observations just because you want to make other real observations and pretend to disagree doesn't really help things.

I happen to be, in my current job, one of those glorified secretaries, in a sense. I am what our IT department calls "a power user," which basically mean I know a lot of software programs, train people on them, and am the go-to person for general computer problems. I can't program, though, and I wouldn't consider myself "in IT."

http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/index.html

In other words, I think everyone would agree with you on these two points:

1. Women are often in jobs that require them to know a lot about computers, but they're given less glorified titles like "secretary."
2. Tech classes often have an "old boys club" atmosphere that isn't welcoming to women

But saying that someone who is essentially a "power user" (like me) is "in IT" is a bit misleading. In my workplace, our IT office is entirely made up of people who know how to program, and if you want to say that women are not underrepresented when it comes to programmers, then I think you're going to get a lot of disagreement.

Lin-X
May 28th, 2006, 01:28 AM
I am not angry with the people on this forum for talking about it, but it does make me angry when I hear it mentioned so often as if it were this big, strange mystery, like, "Gosh, ain't it strange that there aren't more women here! Duh... don't yas all wonder why?" I know several women who are programmers; I bought my computer from one of them. She is currently suing the company she was working for for dis- crimination and harassment. The other woman left her employer and opened her own business. Anyone who wonders why their aren't more women in computer science must be blind and deaf.

aysiu
May 28th, 2006, 01:52 AM
it does make me angry when I hear it mentioned so often as if it were this big, strange mystery, like, "Gosh, ain't it strange that there aren't more women here! Duh... don't yas all wonder why?" Point taken. People shouldn't wonder why. There are plenty of reasons.
I know several women who are programmers; So do I.

angelstar123
May 31st, 2006, 06:09 PM
I am not angry with the people on this forum for talking about it, but it does make me angry when I hear it mentioned so often as if it were this big, strange mystery, like, "Gosh, ain't it strange that there aren't more women here! Duh... don't yas all wonder why?" I know several women who are programmers; I bought my computer from one of them. She is currently suing the company she was working for for dis- crimination and harassment. The other woman left her employer and opened her own business. Anyone who wonders why their aren't more women in computer science must be blind and deaf.


I work on computers from my home and I run into people thinking that I don't know anything because I am female. I am not angry either on people talking about this issue. I remember being at a pawnshop once and this couple was buying a computer that was password protected Windows and I tried to help them with the process. Instead of listening to me, they called thier friend (male) and the cashier did the same thing just to tell them the same thing I told them on handle the issue. I was frustrated I left the store. It was like going back into the stone ages where women should be barefoot and pregnet. From reading all of the postings, I see that it happens everywhere.

eqisow
June 2nd, 2006, 02:10 AM
I have experienced open hostility from male students in my tech classes and even from male instructors. Commonly, the male teachers conduct these classes as if they were private boys clubs, flat out ignoring or "not hearing" female students. They do the thing where the female's comment is wrong but a few minutes later, when a guy says the same thing, it's a sign of genius.

Really? I must say that I am honestly surprised by this. I've always thought that geeky women were awesome. In fact, it's one of the reasons I'm so excited about going to college for CS next semester. Hooray for being surrounded by geeky people, especially women. ;)

If the guys in my classes act like the ones in yours though, there will most certainly be 'open hostility'. :mad:

Anyway, to try and bring the post on topic a bit, I think the others are right when they say it's the technical aspects of Linux and Ubuntu that keep women away. There are more mathmatically/technically inclined men, just like there are more art/literature inclined women. (Notice I only said 'more') It's not sexist, it's just biology.

So while I think the man/woman ratio can certainly be imporved, I don't think it'll ever be 50/50.

jdusablon
June 2nd, 2006, 07:04 AM
First, I'm a man. I have a beautiful wife, two brilliant little kids and I spend WAY too much time on the computer(s.) I also work as a network admin.

Everyone here is forgetting that linux users (male AND female) are at a social disadvantage, even in the world of computer users. Sure, it's a tough world for women in Linux and in computers... but so is it for me in simply trying to speak to other men about linux and FreeBSD and their benefits. I've given up, really. One has to have the courage to leave sight of shore with linux/unix and walk alone for a bit.

Of 18 people in my (IT) department, 4 are women. Biased opinion (male point of view):

1 is a very smart woman. Excellent windows support, she knows her stuff. She has absolutely no interest in linux or UNIX of any kind. Never asked her why. She probably computes at home, but I don't know. 2 have very mild interests in computers at all. They don't have any "I wonder how that works" in them.

The last one is a consumate idiot. The worst kind, too...she pretends to know what she's talking about.

The same kind of statistical spread applies to the men in my department. Some bright + interested, some just clever enough, some dumb and uncaring.

I'm guessing that this pattern is repeated in other tech departments within both male and female groups.

dinda
June 2nd, 2006, 01:38 PM
There's another trend, perhaps difference in how men and women adopt technology into their lives. I've worked on several IT projects and have also seen this trend in the home.

On one large laptop deployment project, the instant the new toys came in, the men inthe department immediately dropped everything they were doing and started exploring. Myself and the other females, took notice of the delivery then said, "I'm too busy to drop everything, when I have a break and when it makes my life better I will upgrade," then we went back to work to finish what we had to. Over the next few days and weeks, we slowly integrated the laptops into our lives.

I'm the same way with software. I (gasp) read the manuals from cover to cover before installing any new software. I want to know how something works and how it will make my life better. I also want to know all the potential in a new package so that I can decide how best to integrate it into my work. I'm probably an exception to how 98% of users learn software but to me it's more a waste of time to spend three days playing, er discovery learning how to "do task 15a" when I can read page 15a and the task is shown there.

I love to explore, play with new toys and new software but I want some basic information first. I spent the past holiday weekend reading from cover to cover, "Beginning Ubunut Linux" by Keir Thomas because I want to install Ubuntu but I needed more information. The book did give me alot of info and alleviated any fears I might have had. So, today, I finally have a clean, new 500gb drive (b/c the older 200 and 300 gb drives are full with video projects) to partition and do my first Ubuntu install.

I'll let you know how it goes!

nursegirl
June 2nd, 2006, 07:05 PM
There are more mathmatically/technically inclined men, just like there are more art/literature inclined women. (Notice I only said 'more') It's not sexist, it's just biology.


It's interesting, brain biologists used to think that was true, but more and more they're saying that it's socialization. Studies I've read seem to suggest that women are less likely to enter math and tech because of two reasons:

1) Socialization about the inherent "maleness" of things like math, technology and the hard sciences (this part seems to have nothing to do with brain structure).

2) The assumption that work in math/tech/hard sciences is isolationist in nature, rather than communal. Women are more likely to choose working environments that are very people-involved in nature (this part might have to do with brain structure).

So, I wonder whether better quality forums (this one is so much better than for many distros) and healthier LUGs (not all LUG are healthy social environments) will, in themselves, be gateways towards increased female participation in Linux.

aysiu
June 2nd, 2006, 07:10 PM
I've generally found that those who believe gender differences are primarily biologically based also tend to be those who reinforce through their actions, words, approvals, disapprovals... traditional roles for men and women.

I rarely get encouraged to cross-dress, speak in a high voice, go into nursing, change my surname, or stay at home and not work.

K.Mandla
June 4th, 2006, 07:39 AM
I really don't see it so much as a gender differential as a person-to-person issue.

I know plenty of men who are tech-saavy and show no fear of computers, yet they have no interest whatsoever in Linux. My brother is a card-carrying MCSE and an architect-to-be, but won't make the plunge for whatever reason. XGL turns him green with envy, though.

My dad is still of the mind that you paid for Windows, so you ought to use it ... even though his XP install has broken down so many times that I have all the drivers on a USB, ready to go for the next rebuild.

On the other hand, there's my mom (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=156175), who hasn't used Windows in months and hates it when she wants to check her email and my dad has booted into Windows. She says she can't find anything. :D

It's possible that there is a schism that runs along gender lines, but I'm more inclined to believe that a person uses Windows or Linux because they, as an individual, like one or the other.

And that's cool.

jdusablon
June 4th, 2006, 08:11 AM
Well said. I agree.

Haegin
June 4th, 2006, 01:12 PM
So what if we, the Linux community encourage men and women equally (as I think we currently try to do) so when Linux becomes more popular and has a greater market share (to the point where Linux is used in offices and on home desktops) and managers start looking for people with experience of this "new" operating system there isn't a whole load of men who stand up and say "yeah, I know that" but there is a balance of men and women who can just turn around and say "New? I've been using it for the past six years."

Also I like the way the forum doesn't advertise your gender. Even if people wanted to discriminate they would find it rather hard.

the_borderer
June 4th, 2006, 02:51 PM
Reading what djheadley said reminded me of something I did a few years ago.

I had been applying for IT jobs in my home town for several years, if I was lucky I got a letter saying I hadn't been selected for an interview but most of the time I got nothing, not even a letter saing they had received my CV/application. after a while I became too ill to work, so I decided to do an experiment. I applied to several jobs using a copy of my CV with my name changed to a male one, but otherwise identical.

Everyone confirmed that they had received my CV and I got two interviews. Maybe if I had thought about it more I would have used a gender neutral name and then gone along to any interviews I got, just to see their reactions.

This might have a lot more to do with attitudes in my home town, rather than in the UK in general, as when I told people what had happened on a forum attached to the local newspaper they refused to admit there was a problem and a few people accused me of being delusional or deliberately causing trouble. I moved away to Oxford soon after, where things seem to be a lot better.

Uta
June 5th, 2006, 01:39 PM
I love using Ubuntu, customizing and tweaking it. I have it running on my iBook laptop (dual boot Mac 10.4 and Ubuntu 6.06) and on an old Dell laptop. Both laptops are wireless so before Dapper came along I found myself having to compile drivers in order to get the D-Link wifi card to work on the Dell and the Airport card was even more challenging. Dapper certainly has made Linux more user friendly. I do not have a computer science background but rather a fine arts background; I just personally find it interesting and challenging to take a piece of hardware and bring it alive. It's a creative pursuit and need not be gender defined. Linux it a very flexible OS and Ubuntu definitely has it's moral heart in the right place. I agree with one of the previous postings where it stated that if you were a Linux user whether male or female you were in the minority. That I know will change as Microsoft and Apple products become more and more expensive/proprietary; meaning only the very wealthy would have access to computer software/OS. Everyone should have access to a computer and a functional user friendly OS. It's a great resource for learning and communicating.
I am slowing getting Ubuntu on all my friend's computers! The revolution starts with you and builds!

bluenova
June 5th, 2006, 08:37 PM
My girlfriend was lookin over my shoulder and said I should say "I am, they have good games" :D

180Solutions..
June 7th, 2006, 02:09 AM
to attract women to our community we need to find a way to attract women to computers in general

!!!!!!!

Jeez, just look on invisionfree. There are, and I mean literally, hundreds of female forums just on that alone.

http://gctopwomenssites.gotop100.com/index.php :-\"

http://usa.ultimatetopsites.com/coolsites/Heather/ :-\"

and this site (http://z3.invisionfree.com/LILS_COFFEE_HOUSE/index.php?) is begging for males to join, they'll do almost ANYTHING to
get some men to join.

(no it is not my board, although I am there)

oh yea btw

almost ANYTHING

bluenova
June 7th, 2006, 08:47 AM
!!!!!!!

Jeez, just look on invisionfree. There are, and I mean literally, hundreds of female forums just on that alone.

http://gctopwomenssites.gotop100.com/index.php :-\"

http://usa.ultimatetopsites.com/coolsites/Heather/ :-\"

and this site (http://z3.invisionfree.com/LILS_COFFEE_HOUSE/index.php?) is begging for males to join, they'll do almost ANYTHING to
get some men to join.

(no it is not my board, although I am there)

oh yea btw

almost ANYTHING
lol, no straight man is gonna join a forum with teddy bears all over it :D

aysiu
June 7th, 2006, 05:37 PM
lol, no straight man is gonna join a forum with teddy bears all over it :D
I would.

Biltong (Dee)
June 7th, 2006, 09:46 PM
You are one of a kind Aysiu.
Unfortunately you really are one of a kind - most men would sneer at cute teddy bears. Hells teeth, most woman too I would think, unless one is sixteen...
At least on the Ubuntu forums I am treated as equal. Of course, that might not be so If I called myself Susan or something equally as feminine.
That is an experiment I am not willing to try, my ego can only take so much!

aysiu
June 7th, 2006, 09:52 PM
You're right. Well, I may not be one of a kind, but I'm definitely in the minority. I have no reason to cling to my masculinity, whatever's left of it. And, somehow, my wife still loves me. Go figure.

Biltong (Dee)
June 7th, 2006, 09:53 PM
It's your avitar. :-)

aysiu
June 7th, 2006, 10:10 PM
My wife designed that for me (at my request), based off our cat.

Biltong (Dee)
June 7th, 2006, 10:18 PM
I have one just like it called Romy. Even the colours are the same. He is fast asleep on the monitor at the moment (it's winter here) and I have to keep on moving his tail in order to write this.
Every time I do he tries to purr his eyeballs out and he gets petted. Who says cats are stupid?

celticchrys
June 15th, 2006, 02:03 AM
I'm a new female Ubuntu user, but I've dabbled with Linux on and off for the last 11 years. However, I think that the majority of people do not use Linux becuase:
a. They've never heard of it
b. They're never seen it
c. They know how to use Windows, it was hard for them to learn, and why would they learn something else if they don't have to?
d. They think they have to have Windows since it's what they use at school/work.

I think that Computer Geeks in general, and Linux users in particular, have to be people who get joy in figuring something out, in playing with new technology, and who are not scared to try something unknown.

The general public just want their computers to work. They enjoy the end results, not the process of exploring new tech. IMHO, most people seem to want to learn the least possible amount at all times about most things. This is just as true of women as of men.

So, while exceptions like myself exist, most women, like most people, aren't inhabiting these forums. Even among computer geeks and programmers I know, most know what Linux is, but those who use it as their desktop are a small subset.

Most of the women I know DO use computers. But they just use them-to find information, perform work, or socialize. Not to read techie-forums.
That's why they have geeky friends. ;)

Linux needs some really good PR, advertising, and public exposure.

ChrisD
June 15th, 2006, 03:48 PM
In reply to nursegirl and aysiu, I have seen many TV programs about brain structure and its relationship to sex. Apparently, it is often fairly difficult to differentiate between a male and female brain. The testosterone levels and such can vary, this is probably why we hear about "born a woman" from men, and vice-versa.

The point is, your (physical) sex does not directly dictate your (psychological) personality. So I'm happy to put it down to complete and utter socialisation.

Regarding other posts, I am disappointed when there are few females on my programming course.

Biltong (Dee)
June 15th, 2006, 09:07 PM
c. They know how to use Windows, it was hard for them to learn, and why would they learn something else if they don't have to?


This is so true - but it is not just females that have this mind-set. I put Breezy Badger on one of the computers at work because it is a P2 with limited Ram and I knew that with Ubuntu onboard it would run a lot faster.

Curiosity turned to horror within a day. Now matter how I tried I could not convince the rest of the staff (all male) that they would not turn into a pile of ash if they so much as sat in the chair and touched a key on the keyboard!

The sad truth is that Windows is easy. XP is simple, and very few people, no matter what their sex, mind simple things.

perce
June 16th, 2006, 02:27 AM
I graduated in Mathematics from Pisa a few years ago. The common pattern, of course with several exceptions, was that smart men went to graduate school and smart women went to IT companies. I had never thought there were any discrimination in the job market, until a friend of mine (a smart man working in a small IT company) told me that they were hiring people, and his boss ordered him to consider only CV's from males coming from Pisa and with a degree in Physics.

kassetra
June 16th, 2006, 06:54 PM
You are one of a kind Aysiu.
Unfortunately you really are one of a kind - most men would sneer at cute teddy bears. Hells teeth, most woman too I would think, unless one is sixteen... I want to know when the world decided it was not ok to like cute things if you're not an 8 year old girl. ;)



At least on the Ubuntu forums I am treated as equal. Of course, that might not be so If I called myself Susan or something equally as feminine.
That is an experiment I am not willing to try, my ego can only take so much! Ahhhh.
So normally I use a gender-neutral nickname when I sign up for a forum. On a lark, I decided to use a feminine name when I registered here, thinking that I wouldn't like Ubuntu and I'd most likely never leave SuSE/RedHat ....

If I were to do it again... I'd probably have used my gender-neutral nickname.


Re: discrimination in class, work, etc.:
After many years in the IT industry none of the stories of discrimination toward women surprise me anymore, because I've gone through most of them. I've had to deal with just about everything from, "Could you please wear a regular suit and tie with pants because most of the office staff are very disrupted by someone working on their computer in a skirt, jacket, and jewelry," to "To be perfectly honest with you, you're not the kind of person we're looking for to fill this position. We don't feel you could handle the stress involved in running these machines, and wouldn't you be happier working with children?"


Re: how to get more women attracted to Ubuntu or Linux, in general:
The entire reason I actually got into linux started off with a friend of mine (male) saying to me, "Oh, you have to check this out, you'll like it." That's it, that's all he said. He didn't tell me about the community around it, or anything like that. He didn't talk to me like I was a "woman that probably is afraid of technology or uses it like a tool instead of really being interested in how it all works" .... he didn't say anything special, he just showed me some screenshots and waited for my curiosity to kick in. Most people are curious - and will ask questions. I asked questions.

I admit that in order to actually get "into" linux in 1997 I had to be a geek... LOL but that's not the case now. Whenever I want to introduce my friends, male or female, to linux now... I do the same thing *my* friend did - I say, "Oh hey, check this out, you'll like this..." and send them some screenshots of cool things I do that I know they'll be curious about. If they don't switch, they at least learn what it is.

Even the least-geeky female friend I knew, wanted to know more.

This actually reminds me of a car commercial I saw years ago.
There was a woman going to buy her first new car. She goes around to various dealerships, and she's either asked where her father/husband is so the sales rep can talk to "him" or she's shown the vanity mirrors for checking her makeup and the available baby/child car-seat straps...
She goes to the last dealership and the sales person shows her the engine and tells her about the horsepower, fuel consumption, etc.
Obviously she chooses the last dealership to purchase a car from - and the end note of the commercial is that she liked the way she was treated so much, she changed jobs and became a sales rep for them.

:)

aysiu
June 16th, 2006, 07:04 PM
Well, I'll tell you--the only two people I've actually gotten to even look at Linux (one I got to try it for a few weeks) were two women I know. One is a close personal friend. One is a co-worker.

Most of the males I know are quite stubborn about using only Windows, and they won't even look at something else (not even a Mac, let alone Linux).

kassetra
June 16th, 2006, 07:06 PM
Well, I'll tell you--the only two people I've actually gotten to even look at Linux (one I got to try it for a few weeks) were two women I know. One is a close personal friend. One is a co-worker.

Most of the males I know are quite stubborn about using only Windows, and they won't even look at something else (not even a Mac, let alone Linux).

LOL I share that experience. :)

EdThaSlayer
June 23rd, 2006, 05:55 PM
Arent they trying to attract women to Linux nowadays with the many women sponsered programs...

nameiwantistaken
June 24th, 2006, 04:44 PM
Probably the same reason you don't see them involved at other sites. They like being social, going outside and not spending all day involved in niche OS development. I suspect that they also have some common sense in just wanting something that is going to work for them out of the box. We have a long way to go in that regard.

xtine
July 18th, 2006, 09:56 AM
Warning: this is one long ramble.

This is a pretty interesting topic, and since I just recently started to read into the Ubuntu Forums community, I thought I'd like to finally start posting.
Now I'm a fourth year Computer Science student, and I'm a pretty hardcore computer/internet geek. I custom build my own computers, I read Slashdot everyday, but never post on the forums, the female Slashdot audience would know why. Not only blantant sexism, but fierce blind fanboydom as well. But it's oh so fun to read flames and headbutting arguements. ;)

I have Kubuntu 6.06 installed my Dell 600m as my main computer. I ditched Windoze a while ago (although I do have a backup WinXP dual boot just in case) and I use linux all the time now, and I will never look back.

I'm also a web developer, designer, and programmer. Well, ameteurly, I do it in my free time if it's not involved with CS classwork.

I've dabbled in many OSes, but I feel that I'm proficient and familiar enough in Windows, Linux (ubuntu/redhat/fc/mandrake/etc), and Mac OS X. I was the System Administrator of my University's newspaper office, running two FC4 servers running Postfix IMAP, Apache webserver and maintaining the PHP/MySQL website with custom built CMS that the original sysadmin coded, as well as managing 15 Windows XP/2000/NT workstations. I quit that student job. Why? No one took me seriously even though I was one of the most singly important workers. If the website/mail/computers don't work, the newspaper wouldn't be out. They always looked at me with a strange perspective that I could even get things done even with my background and knowledge, and sometimes it seemed that they'd rather prefer a guy to get things done. But of course, it was laden with student politics and drama.

Funny thing though, I've never really been discriminated in CS classes. Usually there was like a 5/50 girl/guy ratio, but even lots of the girls were more for the academic or business side of computing rather than being a geek/techie/community member.

Why did I post all of this? Because linux females like us do exist. I think there needs be a stronger foundation and awareness for female linux users, because it's hard to find each other as is. Despite a handful of geek girl and guy friends, few of them already use linux (maybe 1-2 guys that I talk with). A few of my girlfriends that have actually expressed interest in learning Linux for the safety and reliability that they get from me using it or talking about it once in a while in a computer conversation context; but they never do for fear of jumping into the unknown.

It's frustrating as is talking to so called 'computer geeks' that are guys that claim that Windows is the best and Linux sucks, even though they've never used Linux, or maybe just used a minute of Linspire and got frustrated because they weren't used to it. However, these are the same ones that criticize Apple as well, even though they know nothing of OS X's interface or it's BSD-core. So imagine even linux-computing girls are even fewer.

What's rather difficult for women in computing, is that they fear the learning curve. I myself have to admit I've spent many, many hours pouring over documentation and Google trying to figure out dependencies, how to run certain things, how to get around, configuring software and hardware. And also having programming knowledge to be even confortable to understand a lot of it. Why go through all of this even when you have a slight interest in computers, when Windows or a Mac can do it very easily? Well then you might say that they aren't 'geek' enough to figure it themselves, but sometimes maybe it's not that hard then they think.
If there were more female or even general support, I'd think more people would try linux. Even some computing people see installing any 'easy installation linux distro' (ubuntu/mandrake/suse/etc) perhaps maybe like some hardcore self-compilation Gentoo install because many linux hardcore users are that hardcore and they get intimidated.

It took me a little bit myself to switch to linux a few years ago, and it was with great help from a friend who was very proficient with linux to help me. I think if I even knew other girls that knew the howtos and tips/tricks of linux, it would have made me switch eariler.

nikkiana
July 25th, 2006, 05:54 PM
My feeling is it isn't that women are necessarily repulsed by Ubuntu. It's more that most of them feel no reason to switch (heck, I think the majority of the population regardless of gender feels no reason to switch). Most computer users tend to stay with what they started on unless acted on by an outside force... i.e. someone who started out as a Windows user might end up migrating to a Mac at home if he/she was employed by a company that used mainly Macs or if some woman's nerdy husband (or i suppose some man's nerdy wife) installed some flavor of Linux on the family computer and then she was forced to adapt...

If I were to make some observations about my female non-techie friends and their reaction to my switch to Linux, I would say that there's some piqued interest... However, I would also say there are some stumbling blocks that make Ubuntu not as appealing as it should be... Most of the women I know fall into that "computer literate but not a techinical person" sterotype. Their computer activities can be pretty much narrowed down to four or five things... Surfing the Internet, IMing people, playing puzzle games, doing some basic webdesign and dabbling in graphic design...

There are two spots where Linux has problems that will leave most of my friends feeling kinda dejected....

One is in the sphere of graphic design... When you're used to tools like Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro, The GIMP makes you want to drink yourself to death... Inkscape is okay, but it's a vector drawing program and you want more of a photo editor... and Krita's got potential but it crashes... and the thought of attempting to install Photoshop or PSP in some sort of emulation makes your head hurt with confusion.

Two is Adobe/Macromedia's fault. You really don't realize how bad of a Flash junkie you are until it doesn't work right. As pathetic as it, one of the most frusterating things for me has been the fact that I cannot sit and watch stupid videos that people post on crummy websites like YouTube and MySpace because of Adobe/Macromedia's lack of support of Linux.