Mark Shuttleworth on diversity, during Ubuntu Open Week

Rick Scott is a Canadian geek who likes testing, writing, and philosophizing about software, and a regular GF commenter.

Ubuntu Open Week, a series of IRC presentations by Ubuntu community members, is winding down today. I sat in on one of the last sessions, “Ask Mark Shuttleworth” (sabdfl):

12:31 <@akgraner> <MarkDude> QUESTION how important is having a diverse group of contributors (women & minority folks) to solving Bug #1?
12:31 <+sabdfl> not especially, but it makes the project more interesting
12:31 <+sabdfl> next
….
12:57 <@jcastro> <MarkDude> FOLLOW-UP QUESTION – did you just say that primarily white dudes are able to address the solving of Bug #1? Women & minorities just make it more interesting? Please clarify.
12:58 <+sabdfl> MarkDude, if you think i can’t see a baited trap from this close, you’re mistaken
12:59 <+sabdfl> i said that having diversity in the project is a wonderful goal. but it’s no more a requirement to fix bug #1 than it is a requirement to do most other things. fundamentalism is something i despise, and that goes for overdone activism too.
12:59 <@jcastro> (that was the last question)

Bug #1 is the fundamental bug that Ubuntu is designed to address: “Microsoft has a majority market share”.)

Full logs will be available shortly on the Ubuntu Open Week wiki page.

43 thoughts on “Mark Shuttleworth on diversity, during Ubuntu Open Week

  1. Sara

    …yeah, ’cause it’s not like the majority of Microsoft’s current users are women or people of color or both.

    *sigh* You can’t hack demography.

  2. Skud

    I’m wondering where he “said that having diversity in the project is a wonderful goal” … anyone got a cite?

  3. Gustavo Noronha

    I fail to see the problem with what he said. What he said makes complete sense: diversity is important, but is orthogonal to the fixing of bug #1. A team formed completely by “majority” people could certainly win enough users (of any group, notice that the question is about contributors, not users) to drop Microsoft’s market share enough that it is no longer a majority of the market.

    1. Jeff

      I agree with Gustavo here. The actions of the people that eventually bring down Microsoft’s market share are far more important than their race, gender, ethnic background, sexual orientation, and so on. FOSS very often is composed of meritocracies.

      Does this mean it’s not important to encourage diversity? Not at all. But it’s orthogonal to the stated problem, which is bringing down Microsoft’s market share. It’s not especially important who those people are, only what they do.

      The Ubuntu team could be made up of 98% women, or 30% women and 50% ethnic minorities and it wouldn’t really matter as far as fixing Bug 1, because the women/minority makeup of a team say nothing (for better or for worse) about actions those people will ultimately perform.

    2. Daedala

      Er. Then why haven’t they succeeded already, if it’s so obviously easy?

      Incompetence? They don’t _really_ want to solve Bug #1?

      Or maybe there are issues in attracting users who aren’t just like you that only working with people who are also not just like you can illuminate.

      1. Jeff

        Why does “not having succeeded yet” mean “not going to succeed”?

        Why does increasing the number of minorities and women equate to “will succeed”?

        Why does “increasing diversity is not necessarily important to bringing down Microsoft” mean “we don’t care about increasing diversity”?

        Why can’t someone be more interested in working with those willing to contribute than in the specificities of their ethnic/racial/gender/sexual/whatever makeup?

        And, who said it was easy?

        1. Carla Schroder

          “Why can’t someone be more interested in working with those willing to contribute…”
          And there is the crux of the issue. Who is a potential contributor? Many people from all walks of life. But nobody is going to join a project that puts out the unwelcome mat, or stay with one that repeatedly demonstrates it only values a certain demographic of contributors. The hypocrisy here is in neon– for all the high-falutin’ language about ‘humanity to others’ and the Ubuntu Code of Conduct, Ubuntu’s SABDFL acts like he is exempt.
          http://www.ubuntulinux.org/community/conduct
          http://www.ubuntulinux.org/community/leadership-conduct

          The goal of ‘bringing down Microsoft’ is a silly distraction anyway. If Mark Shuttleworth is happy with Ubuntu remaining a boy’s club that’s his privilege, though he’ll never admit it outright. He doesn’t need to, it’s already crystal-clear where he stands.

          It’s pretty funny when the inevitable ‘women don’t do Linux because they don’t want to’ comments start coming out, because the people saying them never bother to progress to the obvious question– if that is so, why don’t women want to do Linux? Here’s a hint: when you’re continually a target of creepy behavior and disrespect, why would you want to ‘do Linux’?

        2. Mackenzie

          @Carla: Well, no idea what community you’re talking about there, since the Ubuntu Community is very welcoming and encouraging.

          The only thing I’m going to say is that since women are 51% of the population, if all women used Windows, it would be impossible for Microsoft to have a minority marketshare.

          Of course, if Apple and Microsoft split the difference…

          EDIT: Re-reading the question is about contributors, not non-contributing users, so I guess we could have a more diverse user-base than contributor-base…

        3. Carla Schroder

          Sorry Maco, I know that Mark Shuttleworth is not the Ubuntu Community. There seems to be a significant disconnect between the two on this issue.

  4. Carla Schroder

    Sigh indeed, he’s still dodging the question. So much for all the people who kindly gave him credit for making gaffes during his Linuxcon keynote but not out of malice or intent– he really is a sexist twit, and it’s pretty hard to not see intent. He’s not even trying. “Overdone activism” my rosy red behind.

    I don’t recall that he ever addressed diversity in the contributor community. He has spoken several times on diversity in the marketplace, like here:
    http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/article.php/3813661/Shuttleworth-says-Linux-Gains-from-Windows-7.htm

    1. Jono Bacon

      From my experience of knowing Mark over the last three years, I would not call him a ‘sexist twit’, and he has always encouraged a culture of diversity in Ubuntu. In fact, when he interviewed me for my role as Community Manager he stated that he was keen for Ubuntu to be an open and welcoming environment for everyone to participate.

      I realise that some people online may judge him otherwise based upon some of his comments that have been documented here – I am just sharing my experience of him.

      1. Skud

        Jono, I let your comment through our mod queue because I’m glad you’re joining us here on GF, but I want to remind you that as a feminist space we’re primarily interested in women’s experiences here. You might like to read some of our Resources for men especially the linked article Check my what? On privilege and what you can do about it. and the suggestions there on listening to the experiences of members of a minority group and trusting them to speak truth, rather than privileging your own experience over theirs.

        1. Jono Bacon

          I appreciate the comment, Skud, and I have no intention of driving GF down a wrong turn, but I felt my experience of working closely with Mark over the last three years could bring an additional perspective to the discussion.

      2. Carla Schroder

        Jono, you’re not a woman so it would be surprising if Mark treated you like one. The oft-cited FOSSPOLS study says 80% of women perceive sexism in FOSS, but only 20% of men. What that means to way too many folks is all them derned women are wrong.

        Your own blogs on the issue sound more like you want us to go away and quit raising all these uncomfortable issues, rather than having any genuine interest in understanding the scope of the problem, and how pervasive and hurtful it is. (‘Changing the Conversation’ and ‘Not tolerating the intolerant’, to give two examples.) Glossing over the problem doesn’t lead to a solution. There is a huge and stubborn culture of denial. Of all the hot- button topics in FOSS nothing comes close to generating hateful backlash like this one, which itself is telling.

        It takes a lot of guts to confront this directly, and not be silenced by the torrents of attacks. Skud and the gang are doing a brave thing by having this blog and speaking out. It’s tempting to keep your head down, don’t make waves, and endure the garbage. Or leave FOSS entirely and find some grownups to hang out with.

        Bugs in software don’t get fixed with vague handwaving and exhortations of “Make better software!” Sexism in FOSS is not cured by vague encouragements about how everyone just needs to be more better to each other; it’s a discrete problem.

        Geekfeminism.org is chock-full of material for anyone who really wants to understand more. These pertain to Mark’s Linuxcon keynote, for anyone who doesn’t get why it’s been criticized:

        http://blog.printf.net/articles/2009/09/25/on-keynotes-and-apologies
        http://mdzlog.alcor.net/2009/09/29/explaining-to-girls/
        http://www.happyassassin.net/2009/09/25/sexism-debate/
        http://blog.linuxtoday.com/blog/2009/09/mark-shuttlewor-1.html

        1. Jono Bacon

          Carla, I don’t know why you are under the impression I want the issue to go away. My article ‘Changing The Conversation’ was because I genuinely believe that positive discussion of women in Open Source should be encouraged and the article ‘Not Tolerating The Intolerant’ was as much about not labelling those passionate about women’s rights in Open Source as ‘extremist feminists’: it in no way tried to deafen out the goal of getting more women involved in Open Source.

          What’s more, I have already written about how I am keen to learn to listen about these issues and not make assumptions (http://www.jonobacon.org/2009/07/15/learning-to-listen/) and I was keen to make women in Open Source a key theme at the Community Leadership Summit earlier this year in San Jose. There I had the pleasure of meeting Skud, and we had some good conversations on the topic.

          I have also approved travel and hotel sponsorship by Canonical for four women (Amber Graner, Elizabeth Krumbach, Belinda Lopez, Laura Czajkowski) to the up-coming Ubuntu Developer Summit in Dallas with the specific goal of growing the number of women in the Ubuntu community.

  5. Barry

    They asked Mark an ambiguously worded question with an obvious intent. Mark saw it and didn’t feel like playing along. I’m sure he regrets his poor wording enough already.

    Let it go, people. We need everyone equally, including public figures who occasionally say things without considering how they will be received. Alienating anyone from the community is bad.

    I think attacking and baiting Mark is the wrong response anyway. Let’s laugh about it and work to make sure the same mistake doesn’t happen again.

    1. Melissa

      This has been nagging at me.

      What you seem to be missing is that people are not as much annoyed at Mark for having made the mistake, as they are at his refusal to accept responsibility and apologise for it.

      When someone steps on my toes accidentally, I don’t assume malice, but I do expect an apology. It is a basic courtesy. In this saga, Mark verbally stepped on toes and was given the benefit of doubt regarding intent, and hence people were expecting the courtesy of an apology. Therefore, Mark is being treated equally.

  6. Jeff

    @Carla,

    “But nobody is going to join a project that puts out the unwelcome mat, or stay with one that repeatedly demonstrates it only values a certain demographic of contributors.”

    I’m not an Ubuntu user or contributor — just someone judging a single comment pasted above. I haven’t known Ubuntu to have a history of putting out the unwelcome mat; I certainly know people from various walks of life that both use and contribute to it. But if you say so…

    “It’s pretty funny when the inevitable “women don’t do Linux because they don’t want to’ comments start coming out”

    I don’t think anyone here has said that. Certainly not me.

    1. koipond

      Why does “not having succeeded yet” mean “not going to succeed”?

      Why does increasing the number of minorities and women equate to “will succeed”?

      Why does “increasing diversity is not necessarily important to bringing down Microsoft” mean “we don’t care about increasing diversity”?

      Why can’t someone be more interested in working with those willing to contribute than in the specificities of their ethnic/racial/gender/sexual/whatever makeup?

      And, who said it was easy?

      Why does asking a bunch of 101 questions lead people to get frustrated with you?
      Why does ignoring 51% of the population mean that you’re stated goal is impossible?
      Why does actually creating an open an inviting space to people who aren’t just like you give you greater access to a wider development community?
      Why do we have to care of people are sexist and racist if they are willing to contribute, no matter who they keep away and how good their code is?

      I will provide one answer though.

      Who said it was easy? He did. I believe the answer is, don’t be a dick.

  7. FoolishOwl

    What’s most remarkable is that the easy way out of the “trap” is to say something along the lines of, “Of course diversity is very important.” It’s pretty commonplace for institutions to boast about their commitment to diversity, regardless of whether they’re making any meaningful efforts to promote diversity. (In fact, since affirmative action is effectively illegal in California and much of the US, the simplest test of actual commitment to diversity is no longer available, making it much easier to make an empty claim.) Even the Minutemen, the xenophobic advocates of paramilitary anti-immigrant patrols with ties to white supremacist groups, boast of the diversity of their membership.

    Given that it’s so easy to falsely claim to care about diversity, Shuttleworth’s denial that diversity matters is just short of outright bigotry.

    It used to be the case that in ~/Examples, there were sample files, among which was a video of Nelson Mandela explaining the meaning of the word “ubuntu.” The Ubuntu logo is supposed to be a stylized representation of people of three different ethnicities in a circle. There used to be a gdm background featuring models, in that arrangement, of both genders. Those are both gone now — I was going to write something about cognitive dissonance, but with the most directly anti-racist content in the Ubuntu distribution no longer present, I can’t.

    1. FoolishOwl

      On further thought, I believe I overreacted. This is pretty disappointing, but I shouldn’t have said it’s “just short of outright bigotry.”

  8. Sonja

    It seems people still don’t get why diversity is a necessary thing and not just something to earn points.

  9. Graham

    I’ve blogged about this (disclosure: I’m a Canonical employee), but in the interests of not making people hop over to my blog to read my ramblings, here’s the salient part of what I wrote:

    I disagree with Mark’s assertion that diversity in the community is “no more a requirement to fix bug 1 than it is a requirement to do most other things.” I think it’s entirely a requirement. At base, as Mackenzie pointed out, if we don’t actively seek a diverse community we’re automatically losing out on a huge wedge of the human race. More to the point, though, there’s absolutely no reason for us to exclude anyone, and every reason for us to work towards including everyone in what is a pretty damn excellent community.

    Ubuntu means “humanity towards others,” and I think we need to recognise that we need to be active in practicing that notion rather than just being passive about it.

    1. Skud

      Thanks for your blog post, Graham — I really enjoyed reading it! Your comments about feeling defensive at first and having to work through it particularly resonated with me. I think we all feel that way sometimes.

      1. Graham

        Thank you, I’m glad that you enjoyed it.

        I’m reading the pages that you linked to for Jono earlier at the moment, and they make very interesting reading. What’s slightly galling to me is that I knew and accepted much of what those pages say already, and yet I still had an inherently sulky reaction to yours and Carla’s comments. I realised within a few minutes how ridiculous and wrong-headed that reaction was, and I intend to make sure that I recognise it sooner should it happen again (because you can’t stop your gut reactions sometimes, no matter how hard you try).

        Anyway, thank you once again, to you and the whole GF community, for running this site and helping me and others to educate ourselves and strive to help the GF clause.

        (That last paragraph sounded rather pompous… meh, I’ll blame it in being tired)

  10. Greg

    Diversity is required to design creative software. While diversity of thought is possible without diversity of sex, race, nationality, and religion, it’s incredibly more difficult. Mark and the Ubuntu community should know that better than anyone. Mark’s answer is shocking. I can understand why he is defensive, but this needs to change and soon.

    Foss developers should be hyper-aware of the value of diversity. Many contributors to projects I have worked on did not even speak the same language that I do. When software development suffers from a lack of diversity the end product ends up suiting the group who created it. (Think Linux through the 90′s, if my code has a bug you don’t like, *you* fix it)

    While it’s not impossible to create pervasive software without a diverse group of developers, it’s incredibly more difficult. This is a very powerful truth to design that makes prejudice a core topic in any design course.

    If you want to make great software, go out of your way to find people who are as different from you as possible.

    1. Rick

      One interesting addendum: in the software testing community (or at least the part of it I’m tuned into) there seems to be a definite appreciation of the need for diversity amongst the test team.

      Usually when a showstopper bug gets missed, it’s a failure of imagination, not a failure of effort. That is to say, three more weeks of testing wouldn’t have caught the bug, but a different perspective on the problem might have. More diversity == more perspectives == broader and better test coverage.

  11. James Morris

    Diversity is good merely because it makes a project interesting — to who and why?

    This guy continues to creep me out.

  12. Jon Niehof

    I still agree with Mackenzie’s point, because 1) cutting out 51% of the potential contributor pool sure isn’t going to help with Bug 1 and 2) monolithic background in development probably isn’t going to result in a diverse userbase. Beth Lynn Eicher put it very nicely in her session: “If there are people who look like you and talk like you who are using a product, it gives a great deal of legitimacy.” (Related babbling, too long for a reasonable comment, on my lj.)

  13. Mark Shuttleworth

    There’s no question that Ubuntu is open to participation by anybody of talent, regardless of background, language, ethnicity, race, sexual preference, gender or any other superficial basis for discrimination. You will find people across all of those spectra who happily participate in Ubuntu, and for whom the Ubuntu community is a welcoming and positive social home. The community council has acted immediately and firmly in the few cases where we have had reports of discriminatory language or leadership.

    I’m proud of that, and will continue to lead the community with that as a goal. Ubuntu distinguishes itself as an open source community in that it puts contributions from all sorts of different talents on a common footing. We don’t elevate developers over translators, or advocates over documentation experts. All kinds of contributions, from all kinds of contributors, are welcome. That’s a key part of our strength, and it’s a key asset in our goal to deliver free software in a form that it can reasonably be used by anybody, anywhere.

    Ubuntu is a “delegated meritocracy”. The responsibility for decisions starts out in a tight group, but we delegate as much as possible to the people that we think are most competent to handle those decisions. It’s not a democracy. If you take the time to look at who has responsibility and authority in Ubuntu, it’s a reasonably diverse group. There’s no grounds for suggesting that competence isn’t enough to ensure recognition in Ubuntu.

    Because Ubuntu is such a visible part of the push for software freedom, people sometimes assume that Ubuntu is fundamentalist about that. And we aren’t. We think it’s a better way to produce software, but we also think it’s important that people can use their proprietary software with Ubuntu if that’s important to them. We even went as far as including proprietary drivers for some hardware, if that was the best way to get free software up and running on the computer.

    I’m convinced that pragmatism is important if we really want to improve the lives of people who could benefit from more free software. I’m convinced that pragmatism helps us get more engaged with a broader cross-section of users. And I’m convinced that fundamentalism would be harmful to our goals.

    That resistance to fundamentalism runs deep. Fundamentalists end up doing much more harm than good. Even if something is very important, it’s always valuable to be able to see the other side, or understand the limits of that idea. Usually, people who are fundamentalist about something are more interested in their own ego than in helping others out. So, they’ll invade a country to change its politics. They claim to be acting in others interests, but in reality they are just pandering to their own world view.

    Activism is important, it herds people towards a better world, a better way of thinking. The world would be miserable if it weren’t for the hard and painful efforts of activists over the centuries. And the cause of women in the workplace, or women in society, has been an important focus for great activism. And that will likely continue. But like any cause, it can be harmed by fundamentalism.

    When people think that their one idea is more important than ANY other consideration, they are likely to be edging towards fundamentalism.

    The questions that were put to me in the Open Week Q&A were clearly fundamentalist. The first tried to draw a link between diversity and an arbitrary goal. The second put words in my mouth – “did you just say that primarily white dudes are able to…”. I saw no reason to pander to the questioner with vacuous reassurances – the practice of the Ubuntu community speaks for itself, we are an open and tolerant community that defends participation by all subject to the code of conduct. As someone said in this thread, it’s all too easy to claim a commitment to diversity while doing nothing of the sort – our actions speak louder than any words.

    As for my own views, I’m intrigued that Carla has labeled me a sexist twit. That would suggest that I harbor some deep mistrust of female competence. If so, I find it hard to square with the facts:

    – the COO of Canonical is a woman, appointed by me
    – the CEO of the Shuttleworth Foundation is a woman, appointed by me
    – the CEO of Hip2BeSquare, a South African educational campaign, appointed by me, is a woman
    – the CEO of HBD Venture Capital, also appointed by me, is a woman.

    If anything, there’s a case to be made that I harbor some deep mistrust of male competence, since apart from my own role in Canonical, the above four women represent all the authority I exercise in all the institutions for which I’m responsible. On my executive team, as it were, there’s a very healthy gender balance.

    Given the way we conduct ourselves in the Ubuntu community, and given the extent to which I’ve actively sought to empower women around me, I don’t think of myself as an obstacle to the cause of women.

    However, I do consider feminist fundamentalism to be an obstacle to the cause of women. The sort of acrimonious knee-jerk accusations that fly around in this forum are not constructive debate. This is not a forum that seeks to address real problems – instead, it champions the mistaken notion that women are being systematically excluded from responsibility and authority in the free software world. Comments from that support that world view are enthusiastically embraced, especially when presented by men. Comments that challenge it are automatically debased. The result is an echo chamber that does little to improve the world.

    If there are women in this forum who are here because they want to participate in a vibrant and positive free software project, then I welcome you all to participate in Ubuntu. I’m confident that, like Mackenzie, you’ll be able to find innumerable ways to exercise your talents and socialize with like-minded individuals.

    1. Carla Schroder

      Hello Mark! Welcome to the constructive debate! Constructive debates are so much better when the primary participates.

      I wonder if we can possibly get past defensiveness and dismissiveness, because that’s pretty much what I’m hearing from you (and your loyal defenders). Now bear with me, I’m not saying you’re a bad person. On this issue you’re showing a big blind spot. And digging in deeper by using dismissive, unfriendly language like “fundamentalism” and “pander”, rather than listening and taking the issues seriously. Attack and discredit the messenger and don’t listen to the message. Nothing new there!

      Nobody likes to be criticized, we all get that. Here you’ve gone from zero to Karmic Koala in record time, the leading Linux distribution, a large enthusiastic contributer and user community, and significant inroads into the commercial and corporate spaces. These are all amazing achievements that demonstrate energy, vision, smarts, and commitment. Do you get enough recognition for that? Probably not, since it’s human nature to speak up more when we’re upset about something than when we’re pleased.

      But when the criticism has merit, what is the constructive course of action? More defending and denying? Honest to gosh, this could have died ages ago and been a minor, forgettable bump in the road. Words have great power, and I think you understand this better than most people. Might I suggest that some cadence between words and actions would resonate with ultimate clarity?

      Whatever you choose to do, that is of course up to you. Me, I’m going to continue to hang out here in this wee tiny little corner of the Internet where I can actually have intelligent conversations about sexism and gender issues, and not be continually buried under the same idiotic clueless comments over and over. It’s like standing in knee-deep water and being told over and over that no, it’s dry land, and if they only insist loudly and often enough we’ll believe it. Sorry, but that has never worked, and I am pleased to have a space where I can speak freely without having to deal with the ‘Four legs GOOD, two legs BAD’ crowd, and learn from some pretty darned smart people.

      1. Gustavo Noronha

        Sorry, but you are the one attacking the messenger, and making the debate less constructive. I am definitely no ‘loyal defender’ regarding Mark, I am many times in different camps than him (and being a DD, I have my share of differences with the Ubuntu ways); I’m just pointing out the logic flaw in this post as a whole. I believe you should be taking this feedback more seriously.

        If you think using baiting, and fallacy to coerce Mark into apologizing for what he said before is a good modus operandi, and are quick to disregard any opinion that is not a full match to yours, I don’t think I can agree with this specific instance of the FLOSS feminist movement.

        1. Carla Schroder

          Gustavo, I should have made it clear that I’m also including the reaction to Mark’s Linuxcon keynote; that is an essential part of the context of this whole discussion. My mistake. (See how easy it is to admit a mistake, and no injury occurred.) And I assumed the IRC questions flow from that as well, otherwise they make no sense. None of the questions from the keynote have been answered, so they’re still on people’s minds. Responding with sweeping generalizations and negative labels doesn’t help anything.

    2. James Morris

      Mark, you’ve used a straw-man argument to paint the views of the activists here as fundamentalist, as a means to then dismiss these views without addressing them in concrete terms.

      You’ve not apologized for (or even acknowledged the existence of) the sexist remarks you made in this community, and have instead come out swinging at the people who’ve called you on them. (Yes, we all make mistakes and have all manner of imperfections, but ideally we learn something from these mistakes and apologize when we get it wrong).

      Also, if I’m reading your response here correctly, you’re suggesting that sexism should be tolerated in some way as a pragmatic measure for the good of the community. Or how else would you define a pragmatic approach to instances of sexism, other than to identify and confront them? I’m intrigued.

    3. FoolishOwl

      Describing the bloggers on geekfeminism.org as “fundamentalist” is quite inaccurate.

      For the rest of what Shuttleworth said, and from his previous comments, it seems to me that he’s starting from the axiom that meritocracy trumps bigotry. Merit, however, is not an objective property. Most applications of the concept of “meritocracy” lean on conventional and conformist models of merit, and that tends to reinforce existing patterns of privilege.

      On the other hand, in a creative endeavour, a greater diversity of insights and ideas is enormously helpful. At the height of debates on affirmative action at UC Berkeley, one of my English Lit professors said that he’d found that when the students were predominantly a homogenous group of young white men, there were only a handful of ideas that would predictably be offered, over and over, whereas with a more diverse group of students, there were much more complex and interesting discussions.

      So, if developing software and designing operating system distributions is a creative endeavour, having a more diverse set of developers would, yes, make things more interesting. But that’s not orthogonal to the question of merit. From the point of view of encouraging creativity, making things more interesting is critical.

      Diversity is meritorious.

    4. Carla Schroder

      Aargh, I swear I am getting senile, because I forgot to say: Mark, I am sorry for calling you a sexist twit. That was low-class and uncalled-for, and I am sincerely sorry, and will watch my words more carefully in the future.

      1. Skud

        Thanks, Carla. I had meant to contact you about that and got distracted, but I did want to point out that ad hominem attacks against anyone (male or female) aren’t appropriate here. Have you seen Jay Smooth’s How to tell people they sound racist video? He has some good tips on separating what they did (“that thing you said sounded racist/sexist”) from who they are (“you are racist/sexist”).

    5. cwningen

      Thank you for your leadership Mark. Without that leadership, we default to a “democracy” where the loudest (often most sexist) voices overpower the intent of many. While our views on the need for active feminism may differ, the important thing is that you have shown that sexism is, in fact, discouraged in the community. Thank you.

      1. koipond

        I’d disagree with this statement.

        As someone on the outside looking in I see a contradiction. I see someone who has said and stated that sexism is discouraged in a community, except of course when he’s the one who makes the comments. This isn’t unique, in fact it’s a disappointing standard.

        What I’ve seen is that there are quite a few people interested in keeping this discussion relevant and working to actively discourage sexism in the community, by pointing it out when it happens no matter who is utters the comment. That’s what gives me hope for maybe doing something within this community in my free time. It’s those people that deserve the thanks for showing that sexism is discouraged in the community.

        Thank you.

        1. cwningen

          Koipond,
          I’m assuming the last post was in response to the one directly above as you closed it “thank you”? If not, then please excuse (brain not working so well after night shift) :)

          I too am on the outside looking in. I am not part of the Ubuntu community, I am simply a user of Ubuntu as I do not believe that access to knowledge should be limited to those who can afford licenses. I did state that I had a differing view as to the need for active feminism. We do need to call out sexism regardless of penalty. That’s a given. I know why, you know why, but does Mark Shuttleworth know why? I really don’t think he does.

          For the last little while I’ve been trying to get the fan on my eeepc to work properly under Ubuntu NBR. I’m failing miserably. I’m sure many of you here, if I handed it to you and asked you to fix it, would probably have it working perfectly within 10 minutes. You most likely have developed the skills to identify and logically go about solving the problem through experience and maybe some training. I think the same holds true for identifying sexist behaviors and how to effectively go about correcting them. I don’t think I can honestly expect Mark Shuttleworth to recognize patriarchal privilege in a mainstream sitcom any more than he can expect me to know how to bash script. Both require experience to learn. The important thing is, I am trying to learn. Much in the same way I think Mark is now trying to understand why, when he obviously doesn’t see why, his previous actions are being perceived as sexist. He posted here. When the majority of online commentary on his address and irc session that I have seen has been sexist, that tells me that he at least recognizes that hurt has been done and he is attempting to correct it. I think that should be encouraged and fostered. It’s a small step, but an important step. And yes, I do think the people here and others have done an excellent job of shining a light on the fact that something is horribly amiss, I just thought that went without saying :)

        2. koipond

          cwingen:

          It was, and I still stand by my comments that you can thank Mark for starting a company to try to get Ubuntu out to people. You can thank Mark for a lot of things but showing defensiveness in the face of sexism isn’t one of them.

          What he did while posting here was just post more defensiveness.

          You know what would have solved all of this?

          “Yes, diversity is important in anything you do. The more you include people the more people there are putting towards the project, and the more they put towards the project.”

          You know what would have solved all of this?

          Not being defensive and not taking the shock that comes when you say that diversity isn’t important as a “set-up.” Or that someone basically repeating what he just said as “putting words in his mouth.”

          Yes, Actions are important. This is why some people make the community appealing and they are doing their best to try to be as inclusive as possible. However, words count too and when the words used by someone in a leadership role doesn’t sync up with how the community is acting then what you get is a cognitive dissonance between those actions and those words.

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