Older blog entries for jennv (starting at number 8)

Gender debate

Lilo has provided the only good argument I've ever seen for not talking about gender issues. I'll have to think about it.

I do think that he's wrong (ahem) in characterising the debate as "'you're wrong' 'no you're wrong'". But perhaps it is. I try to make it 'hmm. I hear what you're saying, but my experience is X'.. which, I guess, maybe does boil down to 'my experiences are a counter-example to your argument'. I don't like telling people they're wrong, but I do feel that counter-examples are good. But from outside my skull, maybe it comes across as 'you're wrong'. So lilo may be right. :/

I discuss gender not to highlight differences (as lilo's last paragraph implies), but to attempt to ensure that people are aware of subconscious cultural tendancies towards each other. (and that's male-male and female-female, as well as female-male) BTW: it's NOT a linguistics issue. It's a culture issue. It's the cognitive dissonance that matters, not the origin of the word.


jwalther, I love scones, either with or without jam, but I can't imagine what possesses anyone to drink tea. Under any circumstances. It's awful stuff.


I'm getting ticked off with places I've never heard of telling me 'you are receiving this email because you have requested information from us in the past'. Sigh.

My day

Gee, thanks Bryce. You summed up a large part of my life here: "unfortunately there isn't much you can say about a day which is composed of waking up, coughing lots, going to work, writing documentation, then going home." I guess that's what I get for being a CFS-recovering documenter. :)

Hm. Y'know, Bryce really did sum up my day. Dammit.

Gender Issues again - ignore if desired

Well. Quite a lot of interesting and useful information came out of this. Information on opinions and attitudes, which is very very helpful to me.

I appreciate people who take the time to write a comment about this, even though I know it's boring a lot of people. It's all useful for the LinuxChix Issues FAQ. I've seen LinuxChix do a LOT of good already - lots of women (and girls) saying things like 'I didn't know there were other women into this sort of thing' and 'I found the local LUG really scary - I'm glad this place is here!'.

So everyone who takes time to read this stuff, everyone who contributes to it, and everyone who tolerates it and waits for it to go away is helping an advocacy project. Thank you.

Radagast, Iain, mojotoad and rwatson: I've clipped sections of each of your responses. Would you mind if I put them (or the ideas stated there) in the issues FAQ in some form?

Now, should I respond _here_ to these additional comments? No, probably not - the Advogato community seems to be tired of this discussion. If I could break it off into a thread, then maybe.

Question for the community

How would people feel if I posed a draft of the Issues FAQ as an article, and requested comment? It would doubtless create another of these massive discussions, which would be very very good for the FAQ - but probably spammy as hell for those uninterested in this discussion. I could/would request that people keep their comments to the article, where they're easily avoided by the uninterested.


It's interesting how reluctant I am to write this entry. The probable reaction to what I want to say inhibits me from saying it.

Hell. The probable reaction to what I want to _be_ inhibits me from being it.

I'm female. I'm moderately attractive (and yes, that IS relevant). I've been a tomboy and a hacker and a geek all my life.

I've experienced, and beaten, a lot of gender-bias. I've also experienced, and beaten, the same geek-bias that just about everyone else here has.

And now I'm here, where I feel I belong, and .. I feel unwelcome. Why? Because I'm female. And moderately attractive.

It happens almost everywhere geeky I go. (Netizen has been, so far, the only exception.)

It happens in all sorts of subtle, small ways. Going to a meeting at someone's house where there's both geeks and non-geek wives, and being automatically welcomed to the 'wives' side. (odd, there were no non-geek husbands.) Discovering that your geek boyfriend was using you as eye candy and a social 'boost'. Having a discussion about internal vs external modems interrupted by a chat-up line or two 'casually' thrown in.

... or having a 'no, please don't use the term _journeyman_' request answered with a rather harsh flame which summarises to 'gee, you girls are wimps'.


Well, I guess the Linuxchix Issues FAQ is far more important than I thought.

To those who think that gender-politics don't matter, please PLEASE accept that people like me HAVE thought these things through. And have a point of view you may not have.

Please listen. And if you do have a dispute with us, please make it more sensible and unemotional than name-calling. We're not wimps.


Several posts have stated that both sides aren't listening. Since I admit that my view is doubtless biased, and I don't seem to be able to figure out what the other viewpoint is, could someone please try to state it? Again? In a different way?

I'm responsible for doing the 'issues' FAQ for LinuxChix, so I have a responsibility to try to see the gender problem from both/all points of view. I want to do this right. I want to understand.

To try to help people explain it to me, I'll rephrase what I'm hearing, and make my responses. If I miss anything, please say so. If my responses don't address the issue, please say so.

'just shut up and stop whining'
I tend to ignore that one, because I do perceive this (whether both genders feel welcome) as an important issue.

'you're making US uncomfortable now!'
This is important. I don't want either gender to be uncomfortable. I don't have a solution. Maintaining the status quo is NOT a solution. Please help find one.

'yes there are problems but there will always be problems. live with it'
Hm. This one is difficult to answer. My reaction to it is to ask if the people with this viewpoint are happy to be chasing women away. The common answer to that appears to be..

'we don't chase women away, we treat them just the same as men'
Well, maybe - but if that's so, why are there so few women in this field? And why do so many of those who are in the field report feelings of unwelcome and intimidation? Maybe the way you treat men is intimidating to women - for some reason. I don't know what reason.

'but you want to discriminate against ME'
No. I don't.

other things...
I don't understand the accusations in the thread (following the article) about bias. Or the challenge to admit 'our' bias. Sorry, but thats the truth - I don't know what the hell he's talking about. I'd like an explanation of that, so I can address that issue.

There will definately be things I've missed here.

Please consider this a dry run for part of the LinuxChix Issues FAQ, and an invitation to contribute. You can answer here, or in private email to me. jennv at the usual sourceforge email*.

*(Wording it that way so spamgrovelling mail doesn't reach me. You know that eventually SOMETHING is going to decide these diaries are a goldmine of 'wealthy geek' email addresses.)

Does anyone else think it's wierd that the assembly instructions for a bookcase were written in icons?

I mean, look at the word. Bookcase. A case for books. If you want somewhere to store books, surely you read? Ok, maybe not English - but something.

Whoever designed them didn't have paperbacks in mind, though. The available shelf heights (and number of shelves) are all wrong for paperbacks. Whatever bookcase you buy. It's rather depressing.

And Target doesn't have the nice black ones anymore. I've got these dark reddish bookcases, one for the computer room and one for the paperback overflow. Our loungeroom looks like a flood zone, with paperbacks instead of sandbags.


I'm a tech writer and I think I'm a good one - but what's capex? I don't speak American either!


Pride, as they say, goeth before a fall.

I decided to put the LinuxChix FAQs up on sourceforge, making use of their repository for my offsite backup. But I wanted to have the markup nice and clean and tidy before putting a project with my name on it up where everyone could see it.

I didn't have a .sgml ending on the file 'issues'. I typed 'sgmltools issues'. sgmltools went ahead and created a directory 'issues' ....

Well. One way and another, I've lost it. And stupidly, I don't have a backup. At all. Even grovelling through the swap partition couldn't find a copy. Stupid, stupid me.

So I get to do it over, from the Cerebral Backup Unit. Oh well.

Skud has been encouraging me to 'write something about documentation' for the AUUG conference (Australian Unix Users Group).

Me? What can I say about documentation that hasn't been said a zillion times?

Tonight friends dropped in. So I fed them, while Dancer was off swearing at machines. (See his diary). I mentioned the AUUG - and Cat said she was on the program committee and would I /please/ write something.


Looks like I'm going to blather on in public about documentation.

Considering what I'm given at work, maybe I should discuss structure. And how a document is really like a program.....

Jenn V.

Spent most of yesterday and half today trying to get Docbook & sgmltools to believe in the new admonitions 'advanced' and 'readme'. Netizen currently has a kludge for it, but I wanted to create an elegant solution.

Got the DTD working just fine, very quickly. nsgmls and sgmltools understood the new admonitions and created the text just fine...

... just not in the same style as the old admonitions. Argh. Hm.

So I tried to elegantly hack the stylesheets - creating a new stylesheet file. Then I tried getting it to work at all, and hacked the files in stylesheets/docbook/nwalsh.

The errors kept changing. So I was making some progress.

But I'm stalled out. And I really should either be doing billable Netizen work, or relaxing.

I'll work on it later. :) Need to make time to sit down and /grok/ stylesheets, sgmltools and maybe jade.

Maybe I should become an SGML guru and add to the documentation on SGML - on the inner workings, rather than the how-to-write-documents.

Jenn V.

Yup. Skud sometimes sleeps on the office floor. So do Morgan and occasionally Thorfinn. Usually not all the same night. Something about being both healthy and dedicated, I think.

My main diary is at http://www.simegen.com/~jenn/diary/. I probably won't maintain two. Yup - you've seen that statement before!

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