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11.17.13

The Rise of Women in Technology, Including in FOSS, and the Crucial Broader Picture

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software at 10:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Women's pay

Summary: Hiring statistics suggest an improvement in gender equality, but a bigger story needs to be told

A new report from Dice got the attention of the Linux Foundation [1] because the FOSS world seems to be trying more than anyone to bring women to the community of developers [2]. “Women outnumber men in this year’s tech hires.” says one Microsoft-centric pundit in IDG [3]. A couple of days ago I had my wife join to help me run Tux Machines (it’s a non-profit site, so I’ve removed all ads from it) and she is really getting deeper and deeper into FOSS, so this trend seems to make sense. She recently joined the company that I work for. As some people point out on the Web, hiring X just because s/he is X is never a good kind of hiring and it is possible that financial considerations play a role (women get paid less on average, even for the same job).

There is more to this story than the above report would suggest. As pointed out by Will Hill, in China for example, women get hired because it is easier to abuse and exploit them (or underpay them). To what degree this is applicable in the West remains to be determined. Similar arguments are being made to suggest that a $15 minimum wage [4] in the United States would only make things worse for the poor, not better, for all sorts of reasons we won’t delve into right now. Business can always take their staff/hirings elsewhere [5]. Here in the UK, “permanent austerity” is being promoted while there are many millionaires and billionaires around (including our politicians [6]) and in Massachusetts there seems to be a run away from banks [7] because another crash is expected [8] (there is assurance of bailout at taxpayers’ expense) and our government here in the UK is starting new programs to push every one of us (even savers) into huge personal debt [9] (let alone national debt).

What it all boils down to is a race to the bottom, debt economies (always borrowing from the future and forcing everyone to do so), or in a broader sense globalisation which only benefits corporations (making the rich even richer under the pretense it would lead to some ‘trickle-down’ effect). The next post will say more about it, addressing specifically the subject of TPP.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Dice Reports Tech Jobs Increasingly Filled by Women

    Dice this week released new data showing that more than half of new tech jobs created in 2013 year-to-date have been filled by women.

    We’re encouraged to see this trend and believe it will continue. The Linux Foundation is doing what it can to encourage women to contribute to and advance Linux. Our participation in this year’s Outreach Program for Women resulted in a variety of important contributions to the Linux kernel by the interns. These interns were also invited to speak at LinuxCon North America and LinuxCon Europe about their experiences. I talked to a variety of attendees who enjoyed the interns’ session and learned a lot about getting started in Linux.

  2. How did the Outreach Program for Women work out for the Linux kernel this year?

    The Linux Foundation became a sponsor for the FOSS Outreach Program for Women earlier this year, choosing seven interns to hack on the Linux kernel from June through September. And, the results are in: the intern group ranked among the largest contributors to Linux kernel 3.12.

    I asked Lisa Nguyen, one of the seven women interns, what it was like to work full time on the Linux kernel, with Linux developers, remotely for four months. In this interview, Lisa shares with me why she didn’t tell anyone she was applying, what surprised her most about hacking on the kernel, and why she gets up in the morning hungry for more.

  3. Shocker: Women outnumber men in this year’s tech hires
  4. The Time Has Come for $15 Minimum Wage

    In one of comedian Chris Rock’s routines, he observes: “You know what that means when someone pays you a minimum wage? You know what your boss is trying to say? ‘Hey, if I could pay you less, I would, but it’s against the law.’”

  5. Thom Hartmann on “The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America—and What We Can Do to Stop It”
  6. Here’s David Cameron Calling For Permanent Austerity In Front Of All Kinds Of Ridiculous Gold Things

    What everyone is talking about though is the photo of Cameron making this call for lower spending.

    Among the items featured in the photo:

    A huge gold throne.
    A gold speech stand.
    Several expensive looking glasses and chalices filled with wine.
    A random silver horse.
    A huge necklace on the lady sitting on the throne.
    Tuxes with white ties.

  7. A Massachusetts local currency gets international attention

    Dutch nonprofit provides $500,000 grant to start loan program for increasingly popular BerkShares

  8. Former Fed Official: QE Is ‘Backdoor Wall Street Bailout’

    Andrew Huszar, who managed the beginning of the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying program in 2009 and 2010, has two things to say.

    [...]

    Thanks to government subsidies, banks have seen their share prices as a whole triple since March 2009.

  9. Help to Buy mortgages more expensive than renting, say campaigners

    PricedOut says most first-time buyers would be better off renting and saving so they could access a better interest rate further down the line

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