Sex equality for all in open source

It’s a thorny subject that needs handling carefully, but sexual/gender equality does come in open source here and there.

“I came to the open source world because I liked being part of a community where my ideas, my skills and my experience mattered, not my boobs,” wrote Susan Sons in Linux Journal earlier this month.

Sons’ complete piece makes good reading and she has obviously pursued her goals with dogged determination despite the naysayers, occasional obstacles and traditional barriers that impeded her along the way.

She also says that open source was her “refuge”, because it was a place were nobody cared what her pedigree was or what I looked like.

So then, this is exactly as it should be.

Without diving into a discussion on attitudes towards gender equality, readers may find it interesting to read the Geek Feminism Wiki where you can read a whole timeline of incidents that have been carefully and painstakingly detailed to simply make the mind boggle.


The site reads, “Lena Söderberg’s photograph is an image from the November 1972 issue of Playboy magazine. A 512×512 pixel crop of the image is often used in image processing experiments. The cropped image, itself called Lenna or Lena, is a headshot of the model looking over her bare shoulder at the camera. The photograph was first used in image processing experiments in 1973, by then-graduate student Alexander Sawchuk. It continues to be widely used in image processing demonstrations and examples in the present day.”

The website specifies that while it is a non-explicit image, it is a sexualized one, and thus invokes the following concerns:

  • it implies that the intended audience is a heterosexual male one (othering)
  • as a stereotypical model pose by a conventionally attractive woman it plays into body image concerns

A better title for this piece would have been “No sex please, we’re open source”, but that would surely have been sexist, right?

Image: free image, Wikimedia commons