At Linuxcon in September 2009, Mark Shuttleworth, founder and Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator For Life of the Ubuntu Linux project gave the keynote address. He said, in part, that the Linux community's work was “hard to explain to girls”.
Video of the talk was streamed live, so some people heard it who were not physically present at the event. A Flash video copy is available.
- “A release is an amazing thing; I’m not talking about the happy ending..”: 3:02
- “Your printer, and your mom’s printer, and your grandma’s printer”: 35:30
- “we’ll have less trouble explaining to girls what we actually do" at 35:55
Shuttleworth's comments were examples of the following issues:
- Condescension -- use of the term "girls" instead of "women" treats women in a condescending and infantilising way.
- Othering -- the comments set "geeks" and "girls" as two separate groups, with "girls" as the Other.
- Invisibility -- ignored the fact that many women are involved in Linux, or were in the keynote session at the time.
- So simple, your grandmother could do it also featured, as well.
His use of "we" assumes that everyone in his audience is interested in impressing women. As his audience would eventually include those who saw the recorded version of the talk, the audience could be understood to be all FLOSS developers. This assumption would only work if all FLOSS developers were single heterosexual men or lesbians.
On 30 July 2010, Mark apologized in a blog comment for what was said at LinuxCon.
- Dent by emmajanedotnet during the speech
- Open Letter to Mark Shuttleworth by Skud on the Geek Feminism blog (Sept 23, 2009)
- A followup on the Shuttleworth incident (ditto) (Sept 28, 2009)
- On keynotes and apologies by Chris Ball (Sept 25, 2009)
- Sexism debate by Adam Williamson (Sept 25, 2009)
- Boycott Ubuntu (TuxMachines) (Post now unavailable)
- Do not boycott Ubuntu by Roy Schestowitz (Sept 25, 2009)
- Hide of a rhino or constitution of a psychopath by Brenda Wallace (Sept 25, 2009)
- Geek feminist jumps the gun on Shuttleworth speech by Sam Varghese (Sept 25, 2009)
- siding with the bastards by James Cape (Sept 25, 2009)
- Is the founder of Ubuntu a male chauvinist? by Dan Kelly (Sept 27, 2009)
- Explaining to girls by Matt Zimmerman (Sept 29, 2009)
- Mark Shuttleworth's Community Has No Women by Carla Schroder (Sept 29, 2009)
- Why Mark Shuttleworth owes FOSS women an apology by Jun Auza (Sept 30, 2009)
- The Importance of Saying 'Hi' by Jonathan Carter (Sept 30, 2009)
- A Modest Proposal by Máirín Duffy (Oct 13, 2009)