HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux

Val Henson

Copyright (c) 2002 Val Henson This document may be reproduced or distributed in any form, without prior permission, provided that all such copies or distributions include this copyright statement and the warranty disclaimer contained in this paragraph. This document is provided on an "AS IS" basis only, with no warranties, express or implied. All usage of the information in this document is at your own risk.


Revision History
Revision 1.12002-10-29VH
Minor rewrites, typo fixes
Revision 1.02002-10-25JYG
Fixed validation errors, added license, abstract, versioning, etc.
Revision .92002-10-01VH
Initial version

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
1.1. Audience
1.2. What problem? Sexism is dead!
1.3. About the author
2. Why are there so few women in Linux?
2.1. Women are less confident
2.2. Women have fewer opportunities for friendship or mentoring
2.3. Women are discouraged from an early age
2.4. Computing perceived as non-social
2.5. Lack of female role models
2.6. Games, classes aimed towards men
2.7. Advertising, media say computers are for men
2.8. Life-work balance more important to women
2.9. Reasons women avoid Linux specifically
3. Do's and don't's of encouraging women in Linux
3.1. Don't tell sexist jokes
3.2. Do protest sexist jokes
3.3. Don't call people bitches
3.4. Do show some respect
3.5. Don't take the keyboard away
3.6. Do give directions and explain them clearly
3.7. Don't make sexual advances towards women
3.8. Do act friendly
3.9. Don't complain about the lack of women in computing
3.10. Do encourage women in computing
3.11. Don't stare and point when women arrive
3.12. Do treat new arrivals politely
3.13. Don't treat women stereotypically
3.14. Do treat women as normal people
3.15. Don't criticize too much
3.16. Do compliment
3.17. Don't invite only male speakers
3.18. Do ask women to speak
3.19. Don't micro-specialize
3.20. Do discuss broader topics
3.21. Don't make your meetings hard to attend
3.22. Do make meetings easy to attend
3.23. Don't make new people feel unwelcome
3.24. Do help new people get involved
3.25. Don't underestimate girlfriends or wives
3.26. Do treat girlfriends and wives as independent people
4. But I don't do that!
A. LinuxChix


This article explains some of the difficulties and biases women face in the Linux community and examines various strategies for addressing those difficulties in order to encourage more participation by women.