Dear Mark Shuttleworth

Dear Mark Shuttleworth,

“Women” is not a synonym for “people who don’t use, understand or create technology”.

Having used Linux for about 10 years, and being a current Ubuntu user, it’s really disappointing to hear a major figure like you, head of the Ubuntu project, say that “Linux is hard to explain to girls”.

At the University of Waterloo, Prabakhar Ragde gives a lecture to first-year computer science students about the history of computer science. He talks a lot about Alan Turing, the father of computer science, and he mentions that Turing committed suicide at 41 because he was persecuted for being gay.

Then he asks us: how much further would computer science have advanced if Turing had lived?

We can ask ourselves: what other talents are being lost to computer science, as we speak, because of prejudice? Comments like yours make existing female open source developers feel like they don’t belong there, and they make new women who are thinking of maybe giving it a try, feel like they won’t be welcome at the boy’s club, so why bother. Is the field so full up on genius and talent that it’s worth dismissing more than half the world’s population as potential developers, contributors and users?

I would urge you to reconsider this unfortunate remark, and issue an apology.

Chris Bell has a great blog post about this topic.

1 Response to “Dear Mark Shuttleworth”


  1. 1 Mikael June 5, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Hmm, all very good points unfortunatey. Afraid I might be guilty of this kind of thinking as well. It’s hard not too though, when so few women seem (?) to be into technology of any sort.


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