Tag Archives: geek feminism wiki

Geek Feminism: a family cloud

Skud and I were both separately musing recently on the complex ancestry of some of the Geek Feminism, geek feminist, geek social justice and similar initiatives. Things like this: Double Union arose partly from discussions among AdaCamp San Francisco alumni, AdaCamp is a project of the Ada Initiative and draws on my experiences with my earlier LinuxChix miniconf (later Haecksen) event, the Ada Initiative exists in turn partly because Valerie Aurora and I met through LinuxChix, and so on.

Skud then founded the Geek Feminism family tree project which maps influences from one project to another in geek feminism and geek social justice projects. It’s enormous!

As an example, here’s the portion of the graph that relates most closely to the origins of the Geek Feminism blog and wiki, and the projects that have arisen from them:

Flowchart of relationships between geek feminist and social justice projects

Part of the Geek Feminism family tree

Important note: this is an edited version of the graph that excludes many projects not so directly related to the Geek Feminism blog and wiki. You can see the most recent version of the full image for a better idea of how complex this is. Please check it before reporting that your project hasn’t been added yet!

Contribution guidelines:

  • This project is ongoing and does not claim to be complete. We’d love your help. Corrections and additions welcome! If you’re a github user you could submit a pull request directly to Skud. Otherwise feel free to leave comments here with suggestions of what nodes and lines to add, change, delete or annotate!
  • A line is intended to denote some form of influence or inspiration, not ownership or perfect agreement. So, for example, a project might have been inspired by another, or filling gaps in another, or founded by members who met through another, and so on. The two projects may or may not be aligned with each other.
  • You can view a fuller description of some of the relationships between projects in the source file for the graph.

Wiki help needed: supporting young geek women!

One of the forms of geek feminist activism that many adult geeks want to get involved in is supporting girls and young women in geek community and skills. I’d love to have a wiki page that helps people achieve this, and where possible re-use existing resources, thus Resources for supporting young women.

This isn’t my area of expertise so we need your help! So far we have empty or nearly empty sections on General tips for such outreach, Curricula and handouts for outreach, and Organizations that organize this kind of outreach. If you can add to these sections, please either edit the wiki page directly or list resources in comments here and I and other editors will (sooner or later) move them onto the wiki page.

Note: I am well aware that outreach to younger women isn’t the only possible form of geek feminist activism; actually it isn’t something I have often been involved in. But I do want the wiki to support it, hence this new page!

On the Geek Feminism wiki: from Creeper Move cards to women in speculative fiction, and more!

This is the start of a series highlighting work on the Geek Feminism wiki.

Featured article: our new feature is the article on Karen Spärck Jones, British computer scientist, which will be featured until the end of May. BlogHer is up next (June to August) followed by Ada Lovelace Day (September to November), help getting those up to scratch would be greatly appreciated, especially any Creative Commons BY or BY-SA pictures you can supply!

At the moment, as you can see, we’re only doing four featured articles a year; that’s because I handle the whole process. I’m happy to go faster if more articles come up: have a look through Proposed feature articles to find articles that are on good topics but often don’t have all the content they need. Add your fixed-up article to the featured schedule, and if it blows out into 2014 we’ll go through them faster.

Popular content: we’d especially like to make sure that people hit high quality pages on our most-visited content. Our top 5 pages at the moment are Creeper Move cards, Nice guy syndrome, Trigger warning, Privilege and Intersectionality. The last two in particular could use a lot more detail and resources.

New pages: we’ve had lots of new pages in the last few months. A very partial selection (no more than one per editor) includes: Finkbeiner test, a test about whether journalism focuses on women’s work, or their identity as women); Broad Universe, an international non-profit promoting women writers of speculative fiction; Lewis’ Law governing how comments on articles about feminism justify feminism; and List of women groups in technology, aiming to comprehensively list groups for women in tech.

Say hello! We’d love new editors, have a look at the Community Portal to get started. Are you joining the wiki now or re-joining after a break? Come and say hi on the welcome thread for this post!

GF classifieds: wiki edition

As you may know, we have a wiki as well as a blog. In fact the wiki is more than a year older than the blog—we have a little history page up now—and it only has a few (3 to 5 at any given time) regular editors. There’s also a lot of attention paid to the Incidents relative to the rest of the wiki. That’s not a bad thing, but the rest of the wiki could use some love too.

Hence, every so often we’ll point out areas of the wiki you could help out with. At any given time, this list will be hugely incomplete, so you can also go over there and do what suits you.

If you need a hand, drop in on the Community portal and ask for help.

Tech industry! There was a lot of work on this a few years ago, and some of it needs to be brought up to date/expanded:

Resources for allies! The resources for men page is a collection of blog posts, mostly. Seen any good feminist blog posts aimed at allies recently, and that speaks to geeks? It almost certainly isn’t there yet because, again, it’s been a few years. Please add it.

Getting articles ready for feature article status! Getting a featured article on our wiki is nothing like the arduous Wikipedia process: we simply want articles about a geek woman or group of geek women doing awesome stuff! They should be several paragraphs long, reasonably copyedited, in the correct categories, and have a picture. Fixing up our proposed feature articles to bring them up to scratch would be a good task if you know your way around Mediawiki wikis a bit.

We could particularly use a hand with the article on Anita Borg, because it will be the next feature article. And if you’re involved in the Organization for Transformative Works and you can fix the OTW article up with a few more paragraphs, you’ll almost certainly be the feature article after that.

GF wiki editors or readers, what would you like to see more work on?

Google Summer of Code 2012

My goal: inform women’s colleges about Google Summer of Code

Google Summer of Code 2012

Google Summer of Code 2012 - help me publicize this to college women!

If you have contacts at women’s colleges, let’s work to get a GSoC presentation there before March 20th. I’ll help.

Google’s open source team has now announced that Google Summer of Code 2012 will happen. Undergraduate and grad students at accredited colleges/universities around the world can get paid USD 5000 to work on open source projects as a full-time three-month internship.

Upcoming deadlines: 9 March, mentoring organizations need to submit their applications to participate. 6 April, student application deadline.

Open source software development is a rewarding and educational way for students to learn real-world software engineering skills, build portfolios, and network with industry and academe. Women coders especially find GSoC a good entry point because they can work from home with flexible hours, they get guaranteed personal mentorship, and the stipend lets them focus on their project for three solid months.

The best way to get in good applications is for organizers and students to start early, like, now. Students who download source code, learn how to hang out in IRC and submit patches in early March, and apply in late March are way more likely to get in (and to have a good experience) than those who start on April 2nd. So I want students to hear about GSoC (and hopefully about MediaWiki, my project) now. I’m willing to work to publicize GSoC this year and even if my project doesn’t get accepted, the other projects will benefit.

I successfully got multiple good proposals from women for my project last year, and this year I’d like to double that number. To that aim, I want to ensure that every women’s college in North America that has a CS department or a computer club gets informed about GSoC between now and March 20th, preferably with an in-person presentation. I started this effort in February and have already gotten some momentum; I spoke at Wellesley last week to much interest, and Scripps College held an info session today. But I need your help.

If your college isn’t on the list I set up, add it. If you can find contact information for one college listed on the wiki page, send them a note, and update the wiki page, that would be a huge help.

If you want goodies to hand out at a meetup, you can contact Google’s team. Let them know when you decide on a date, time, and location for a meetup so they can put it on the calendar. People have already prepared resources you can use: flyers, sample presentations, an email template, a list of projects that already have mentors listed, and more.

And of course, if you’re interested in applying, feel free to ask questions in the comments!

P.S. I’m only concentrating on North America because I figure that’s a limited and achievable goal; there are only about 50 women’s colleges with STEM curricula.  But GSoC caters to students worldwide. If you know of accredited women’s colleges outside North America that have CS curricula or programming clubs, please inform them and add them to the page. Thanks!

GF classifieds: wiki edition

This will probably be another very occasional series.

As you know, we have a wiki as well as a blog (in fact the wiki is more than a year older than the blog), and it only has a few (3 to 5 at any given time) regular editors. There’s also a lot of attention paid to the Incidents relative to the rest of the wiki. That’s not a bad thing, but the rest of the wiki could use some love too.

Hence, every so often we’ll point out areas of the wiki you could help out with. At any given time, this list will be hugely incomplete, so you can also go over there and do what suits you.

If you need a hand, drop in on the Community portal and ask for help.

Getting articles ready for feature article status! Getting a featured article on our wiki is nothing like the arduous Wikipedia process: we simply want articles about a geek woman or group of geek women doing awesome stuff! They should be several paragraphs long, in the correct categories, and have a picture. Fixing up our proposed feature articles to bring them up to scratch would be a good task if you know your way around Mediawiki wikis a bit.

Improving our coverage of the Science field! You can see the base article: it covers all of science in about a screenful of content. Obviously that could be massively expanded in several directions: into the subfields, expanding the writeup of the issues, and documenting sexist incidents in science more fully.

Groups and events for younger women! There are lots and lots of outreach programs for younger geeks, and some autonomous groups run by teenagers for teenagers. But we don’t have a lot of coverage of them on the wiki. I just started categories today for Young women’s organizations and Young women’s events. Please add to them! (Click ‘Add a Page’ to add a new page to the wiki and start writing! If you don’t know wikis yet, someone will add the right categories for you, so don’t worry about that.)

GF wiki editors or readers, what would you like to see more work on?

Privilege Denying Dude (Edman)

Male Programmer Privilege Checklist – now on the Geek Feminism Wiki

Over on the open thread, Tim Chevalier asked us to share this with you:

I’ve just moved over the Male Programmer Privilege Checklist, which I previously maintained, to the Geek Feminism wiki, so that, well, everyone can maintain it :-)

http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Male_Programmer_Privilege_Checklist

I’d like to see some editing action going on, since there are definitely places where the writing could be improved and made more consistent, and where more links could be added. As well as, of course, adding more entries (most of the existing list is based on either specific experiences that contributors to the list have had, or on incidents that are documented with URLs).

In general it hasn’t seemed to me like the geek feminism wiki has been a major vandalism target, but I’m slightly worried that the privilege checklist will attract vandalism, since there are definitely people who are unhappy about its existence and some of them have emailed me in the past. I plan to keep watching it regularly, though. And, I hope that the increased ease of adding new content will outweigh the potential risks of vandalism from people who don’t like to see privilege being discussed in public.

Thanks, Tim!

Names, glorious names

Some time back, I wrote:

We [on the LinuxChix lists] also had a long-standing problem articulating what it was that led to the extreme gender imbalance in Free Software development and many of its user communities… There was sexism in computing and in Free Software… probably? Some women had stories, some women didn’t.

Now we have our long list of incidents, but I want to highlight another list which I’m happier about, our list of women in FLOSS. Back in the olden days, say 1999 or 2000 or so, LinuxChix tried to make a similar list. The Wayback Machine tells us it got to ten names, and I recall a significant amount of head scratching going into that. Now we have a list of women that is no doubt badly incomplete, probably uncompletable, but nevertheless something like ten times the length.

Today, instead of scratching our heads about what women could possibly deliver a keynote presentation at a technical conference, we started listing women who have done so, and I suspect that list too is fated to remain drastically incomplete no matter how actively it is updated. This is an inexpressibly happy thing for me: too many women to name! Thank you geek feminist flowering of 2008/2009!

Are there recent sources of geek feminist inspiration the Internet has tossed your way? Any treasure troves of women doing things you hadn’t heard about before? (Recall, we define geekdom broadly here, there’s no need to limit yourself to tech.) Who are you a mad fan of right now?

Why we document

A comment over on the Geek Feminism wiki asked whether we aren’t damaging the community by documenting sexism. I don’t want to get too 101 on our fine blog, but I do want to talk about why I consider our pretty long list of sexist incidents in geekdom a success.

My first geek feminist forum, and still the one I participated longest in and therefore in many ways most influential on me, was LinuxChix. Things I learned over there included the reasons why having men dominate conversations can be anti-feminist, via the discussion around the document now available as behaviour in technical forums, which was originally a response by Valerie Aurora to a problem where the LinuxChix techtalk list was seeing fewer and fewer posts by women and was generally perceived as scary and hardcore.

We also had a long-standing problem articulating what it was that led to the extreme gender imbalance in Free Software development and many of its user communities. I can’t speak for the community, but what I remember feeling about those discussions was a major unease. There was sexism in computing and in Free Software… probably? Some women had stories, some women didn’t. There was social, peer and societal pressure on young women considering science and technical careers or even on developing those skills… probably? Again, some women had stories, some didn’t.

Had you asked me in 2003 for troublesome incidents in Free Software—are we doing anything wrong, or is this a problem we’ve inherited from other people who did things wrong, or is this just a thing about women, that they don’t like to be too nerdy in their spare time?—I don’t know that I would have been able to give you examples of anyone doing anything much wrong. A few unfortunate comments about cooking and babies at LUGs, perhaps. Things started to change my awareness slowly. Valerie’s 2002 HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux dug up some incidents at LUGs. In 2005 LinuxChix itself got some attention from (trigger warning) the troll Skud posted about. I was personally present at a sexualised presentation, the Acme::Playmate presentation at the Open Source Developers Conference in 2006. And in 2007, very soon after I had seen Kathy Sierra keynote linux.conf.au 2007, she was scared out of her work writing about technology by (trigger warning) online harrassment and for the first time, I personally saw the Internet explode over the issue of active, virulent sexism against women in technology.

I do not in fact find writing the wiki documentation of incidents in geekdom very satisfying. The comment linked at the beginning of the post compared the descriptions to a rope tying geekdom to the past. Sometimes being known as a wiki editor and pursued around IRC with endless links to yet another anonymous commenter or well-known developer advising women to shut up and take it and write some damned code anyway is like a rope tying me to the bottom of the ocean.

But what makes it worth it for me is that when people are scratching their heads over why women would avoid such a revolutionarily free environment like Free Software development, did maybe something bad actually happen, that women have answers. It’s not the only answer, there’s still all that social, peer and societal pressure, the shorter leisure hours, and so on, after all. And there’s no level of harrassment or cruelty that won’t find someone, plenty of someones, prepared to immediately argue that it’s really no big deal, what are you doing here, giving up? Letting them win? But now if when I’m asked about whether geek women have problems and why there aren’t more of us, I’m not left fumbling to explain it even to myself.

I don’t know what the Mary of 1999 (my watershed geek year wasn’t 1998, in fact) would have done if she’d come across that page in more or less the condition the wiki comment described, “the girl entering the community without any predispositions”, the woman vulnerable to being misled into thinking that geekdom is full of scoundrels (or, we might argue, not entirely misled). Maybe she would have run, I can’t say for sure that she wouldn’t have. But what woman is without baggage? In 1999 as a teenage girl with hair flowing down to my waist (I tell you what, short hair has cut my street harrassment down nearly as much as it cut my grooming routine down) I walked down the street to the steady beat of rape threats from passing vehicles. At least I would have found that geek women were talking about it and had got together and got each other’s back.