I'd just like to show my support for Laura Hale in this discussion. I'm not
resonsible for running the Gendergap list, merely here as occasional participant but I
will describe my reasons for going women-only for my own forum which is aimed at
encouraging/supporting female Wikipedia editors.
I wasn't sure what membership policy I should have with regard to my own forum at
but this list has shown me that including men causes issues for
women participants, I believe, more than having a women-only environment causes problems
for women so I have subsequently decided to make the Women4Wikipedia forum women-only
similar to http://www.meetup.com/girldevelopit-sydney/
I imagine if Girl Develop IT set up a group to debate the issues rather than just getting
on with finding women to help women then they'd likely still be debating the issue (as
is this list) rather than actually addressing the gendergap in IT. If women feel
uncomfortable with a women-only list I don't see this being as much of a problem as
women having a problem with male dominated lists since almost every programming list on
this planet (other than ones set up by and for women-only) are male dominated. There are
no shortage of lists for women to join who feel uncomfortable with women-only
environments. Providing environments for women who feel uncomfortable in male-dominated
environments is what is needed since the other is already provided by default on the
internet. There does not need to be a debate about the rights and wrongs of this -just the
option of both being available so that everyone has the choice to join a supportive
environment with the gender balance of their choosing.
With a female-only list women really do need to change their perceptions about what they
and other women can do because there are no men around to rely on. Here I am speaking of
women such as my own demographic who are not already practiced 'geeks'. I'm
talking about women who do not define themselves as developers, geeks or as overly
comfortable with technology. Other women tend to understand where women are coming from in
their efforts to change themselves psychologically to take on an 'inner geek'
better than men do. A man can be very intelligent but this is not the same thing as being
a woman and where it comes down to women expanding their own identities about what they
are capable of I think women need other women that they can identify with to support them
in trying something they have never done before.
When I set my own forum up on such short notice and with such little experience of
Wikipedia I felt I had to include my son to answer questions on Wikipedia, despite his
lack of availability. However soon after I had women join who have far more experience
editing Wikipedia than he and no doubt he's glad to be off the hook- just as I'm
glad to find female role models rather than relying on men. A group which is solely women
allows us to take on roles we may not normally consider appropriate to ourselves as women.
As novices such as myself go through the process of finding the 'geek' within and
defining ourselves differently the last thing I feel I need to be dealing with is how men
feel about the way I'm changing. I'm not saying this is an issue on this list but
it may be an issue in the everyday lives of women we want to edit Wikipedia.
I have no ownership of Gendergap and don't expect to influence things here. I just
wanted to endorse Laura's courage in putting her beliefs on this list and explain why
I've taken the decision on Gender policy on my own forum.