Some time has passed since the Open World Forum, Paris took place, where I participated in the Diversity Summit: Why women matter? think tank.
You can download my presentation on the “Importance of women values in IT” here. I’ll also post an article about it on this blog soon.
Now, I just would like to highlight my feeling about this topic, as a result of my participation in the forum.
First of all, it was a great experience and I thank once more Marie Buhot-Launay, the organizer, who invited me. This was an opportunity to promote a collective effort, in which I’m doing my best to involve girls and women in the IT context.
I know that I’m dealing with a controversial topic.
I met an open source testimonial (a man) telling me: “Be careful! I’ve decided time ago not to deal with this topic! Any word you adopt may be misunderstood”.
Actually, at the meeting some women held a very “feminist” position, judging all my words.
Ok, we all have different histories, attitudes, cultures and … I’m and old-aged and old-fashioned man … However, please let me do my best effort if it can help. Judge contents of my speeches and actions. I’m open to any debate. I think that just the will of doing something which may improve the situation is a good thing (and consider that I live in Europe and Italy, and the “gender diversity issue in IT” is probably mainly an European -and Italian – issue!)
I’d like to give you an example now.
The day before the Diversity Summit I participated in the Open Source Think Tank Paris .
During a conversation I grabbed this sentence: “If you have to promote open source, you must tell stories to potential adopters and you must put emotion into your stories”.
As a consequence, I decided to open my talk with this anecdote, asking the following: “OSS market is dominated by men. Now my question is: are men really able to put emotion into their stories?”
Well, after one day, a women asked me: “Do you really think that women are better suited to put emotion in stories than men? It’s a typical stereotype, because you think that women deal with maternity, love, etc. It’s just culture, no biological motivation exists”.
Something like: emotions deal with women and rationality with men! Ugly man, you promote the usual stereotypes!
I don’t know if it’s a stereotype or not. To be honest, stereotypes can be used in order to develop a schema of reasoning which can support people in facing a complex topic. Moreover, stereotypes may be a means to understand a specific issue and find out a result. To do this, they must not be the result itself. But it’s not my point.
I’m answering with an example now.
This year, Open World Forum was a great event. More internationalization, better organized (even though last year it was very well organized too), a lot of interesting talks and tracks: a very difficult choice. And some up-to-date talks (which is not usual in open source events).
As usual, many of the speakers were men.
Among others, I attended the speech by Noirin Shirley, vice-president of Apache Software Foundation. A great speech, probably one of the very few speeches (if not the only one) putting real emotion in the story. The format, the content, the speaker’s participation! Thank you Shirley! A great example of communication and of what open source is!
I don’t know if emotions deal with women, but if the previous is a result, we definitively need more women in the FOSS world (to teach many men how to work and communicate, at least)!