I want to go on record and say that I do not believe that gender plays any part in a person’s competence in leadership, intelligence or mental capacity. I’m tired of people questioning another person’s intellectual or technological abilities based on their biological plumbing. I’m sick of female members of technological communities feeling like they need, or want, to hide their gender because of very real bias they have sensed against them.
It’s slightly off-topic, but also for the record, I’m frustrated that this attitude exists in the music, and especially guitar-playing community as well, since that is something else I enjoy participating in.
Thankfully, this experience isn’t universal or constant. I know many ladies among us do not feel as if the gentlemen in and around our overall Ubuntu Linux community are sexist pigs. At least, I would wager they do not think that of most of them. And yet, the problem has not yet been eradicated.
We have at least one staff member in the forums who has chosen not to reveal their gender. That’s fine with me. This person was chosen to join the staff based on the merit of their service to the community, not their plumbing, not the color of their skin, not their politics, not their religion, not based on any other issue. This person is a competent and very helpful member of the community. Yet, there was a recent discussion about whether this person was a man or a woman. Why? Does it matter? The person is a wonderful addition and part of our community who would be missed if absent.
If a member of our community chooses to remain anonymous in name, gender, race/ethnicity, native language, place of origin, religion, political stance, sexual preference, or other things, let’s respect that. Some do so because they are private people who simply don’t wish to share their private lives. That’s cool. Some choose not to share out of fear of rejection, a fear that we often do not cause, but which is based on past experiences with which we were not involved. However, this is a fear which may be inflamed by our manner of address, joking, or perceived pushiness in asking questions that are too personal in nature, and therefore inappropriate…this is something we need to pay attention to on our end.
To the extent we are able, let us continue to make our community as safe of an environment as possible for people to be themselves. Let’s continue to encourage participation by all without strings attached, without the need for disclosing unnecessary details about their lives. At the same time, let us also allow the freedom to celebrate the differences shown by those who desire to reveal the personal bits about themselves, and by doing so, do all we can to make anyone who wants to be a part to feel welcome.
I am who I am because of who we all are…Ubuntu.