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CODE4LIB  December 2012

CODE4LIB December 2012

Subject:

Re: Question abt the code4libwomen idea

From:

MJ Ray <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 17 Dec 2012 22:48:15 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (107 lines)

Tim Donohue <[log in to unmask]>
> Not trying to keep this thread going on forever. But, I do want to say 
> that, based on the discussion thus far, I do believe that MJ's opinion 
> is in the minority. At least, from what I've heard, this seems to be the 
> case.
> 
> Personally, I feel that it's absolutely wonderful that #libtechwomen has 
> been created, and I think it can only benefit code4lib and other 
> technology/library groups by encouraging more involvement from women & 
> minorities in general.

Of course I'm in the minority!  That was part of my point!

Women is currently a minority in this community, right?  But women
is a large enough minority to make a really bad idea stick, such as
another space that discriminates in their favour.

I'm not sure if libtechwomen's creation is good or not. I'm confused
whether libtechwomen discriminates or not, having heard both claims
now... so don't necessarily apply this to that unless you're sure.
I also don't think a womens-issues-only group will help minorities
in general.

Other minorities, such as audio-visual impaired (AVI) people, are even
smaller minorities.  I'd love to work on opening code4lib up to
minorities in general.  However, libtechwomen probably means we'll be
cursed with single-minority groups for a few of the larger minorities
- and quite apart from the inefficiency of a group solely for the AVI
minority (we sometimes need members of the majority to help contact
people who have locked us out of their code, which is why
fixtheweb.net is so great), sidelining AVI in interest/support groups
is also a really poor way to open up the mainstream for access for
all.  Even if the interest/support group can open the door, it's not
unusual for someone else to shut it again in error.

> On 12/17/2012 12:20 PM, Lisa H Kurt wrote:
> > MJ - I can't barely respond to you. This is rather upsetting because the
> > very group of people that want and need and are willing to gather to
> > create such an initiative are being told no. I don't think a group that
> > offers support and learning focused toward a marginalized membership base
> > is discrimination. There are many women in tech groups and they exist for
> > a reason and work well. People can't learn if they don't feel comfortable
> > and safe. If people wonder why women feel intimidated and not part of
> > things- it's this attitude right here.
> >
> > How sad.

I can't barely respond to this, either.  I've only done it once or
twice before and it's ended pretty badly before with "PROJECTNAME
women" groups that are shadows of what they could be, but I really
felt that code4lib could be persuded not to jump from an
anti-harrassment policy straight into creating a single-sex group.

I agree that a group that offers support and learning focused toward a
marginalized membership NEED NOT be discrimination.  I'm unsure
whether this one is now or not, but some womens-issues groups are
discriminating: some are anti-men - and in some cases, even
anti-transwomen.  Discriminatory groups are really counter-productive
and those groups should be opposed by all minorities - even by women
who believe in equality.  There's a big difference between unconscious
discrimination and deliberately creating a discriminatory group.

I'm sorry if anyone feels intimidated (I'm really not scary), but
being a marginalized minority does not give you a free pass from other
minorities that you're failing to show solidarity with.

> > On 12/13/12 2:09 PM, "Robin Schaaf" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >> MJ, when you put everything under Equality, it dilutes each individual
> >> purpose.  I find this type of response aggravating, actually (and enough
> >> that I'm actually sending an email (which I never do) about this!)

I did say it wasn't a great name... but I believe that most minorities
are strengthened by solidarity and collaboration, not diluted.  Some
minorities are too small, too easy for a careless majority to dismiss
and ignore if they try to stand alone, even though the changes needed
are very modest.  A lot of the issues faced have striking similarities
in some aspects.

> >> Women have different issues than other groups - even stuff like when you
> >> have a kid and take a year off, how do you keep up on your mad
> >> programming skillz?  Or program with pregnancy-brain?

I'll grant you pregnancy-brain is probably only found in women, but
some men take a year (or more) off to look after a kid and issues
around that are not unique to women.  It's actually pretty
disappointing anyone would suggest that only women take child-related
career breaks nowadays, but I guess this is a global group.

[...]
> >> If you want to be inclusive, you need to have a supportive environment.
> >> It's probably hard for anyone to imagine themselves a part of community
> >> when being outnumbered 20 to 1, especially with responses that dismiss
> >> something that multiple women are interested in.

I felt I was part of this community, even though I'm probably very
outnumbered (A+VI people are 24-to-1 in the UK population but I don't
know if it's better or worse in code4lib).  Was I wrong?

And one more time, I'm not dismissing the need for a support group.
I'm opposing the idea that any support group should be allowed to
discriminate.  If it doesn't, then go on with it, even if I'd prefer
that we worked together to broaden access to all minorities.

Hope that explains,
-- 
MJ Ray <[log in to unmask]>
Setchey, Norfolk, England

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