Unconscious biases

Matthew Garrett’s recent very good response to Eric Raymond’s recent post opposing inclusiveness efforts in free software reminded me of something I’ve been noticing more and more often: a very substantial proportion of the female developers I encounter working on the kernel are from non-European cultures where I (and I expect most people from western cultures) lack familiarity with the gender associations of all but the most common and familiar names. This could be happening for a lot of reasons – it could be better entry paths to kernel development in those cultures (though my experience visiting companies in the relevant countries makes me question that), it could be that the sample sizes are so regrettably small that this really is just anecdote but I worry that some of what’s going on is that the cultural differences are happening to mask and address some of the unconscious barriers that get thrown up.

2 thoughts on “Unconscious biases

  1. esr’s post is not “opposing inclusiveness efforts in free software”, and if you’re good, you’ll retract that.

    The post is about letting hacker culture not be dominated by SJW efforts. Hacker culture *is* already “inclusive” because, as was already mentioned, “because hacker culture defines itself through the quality of contributions, the background of the contributor is irrelevant”. (I could write about IRL vs. online, and that names don’t mean anything any more because even in my own country I don’t recognise names as native any more, and assignment to certain people groups cannot happen due to that, but this is not the point in my reply.)

    My point is: I agree about background not mattering, only the contribution (as long as it’s properly licenced of course), and this is also what I myself associate with hacker culture, and this is what is lived at least on those conferences I attended (I did notice that most complaints about conferences being in the American and Australian area, which is very remote from my European PoV), and that your qualification of ESR’s post is, thus, plain wrong and slander.

  2. There’s a documentary The Gender Equality Paradox. I recall that it says that in poor countries there are actually more women pursuing engineering careers. In wealthy countries people are more likely choose whatever they really want to do (or think they want to do). Makes sense to me.

    “Young people’s choices are more traditional now than 15 years ago.”

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