I’ve been working on my talk for LinuxCon Japan by rereading a number of papers on the topic of motivation in Free and Open Source (F/OSS). I was able to recall a lot of the information I had read before but I realised that today I was memorizing odd details about the papers. And then I remembered why – it was because of a question I was asked after giving a talk on a related subject at another tech conference.
“Your talk was interesting but how much of this is relevant to men?”
Now there was a question I was not expecting. There are always more men at the conferences I speak at than there are women. And when I say more I mean that at that particular conference about 95% of the attendees were male and I was the only female speaker. It was a few years ago and the question has stayed with me. I replied by saying that the research I was referring to was carried out on members of various F/OSS communities, and the majority of those respondents were male. The person who asked the question said I should have mentioned that in my talk. Really? I don’t recall any of the other speakers saying that their material was relevant to men. I’m sure that the person asking the question didn’t mean to upset me but it was just another thing that highlighted the fact that I was different from the other speakers at the conference.
The paper I was reading this morning stated that 97.5% of the respondents were male – so the question could be, “how much of this is relevant to women”.