(Post written by Claire Corgnou, Kinouchou and Delphine Lebédel)
You probably remember the different stats, charts and posts on this blog (and others) that illustrate how few women are involved in FLOSS communities and Mozilla. We often use these kind of stats in our Women in Mozilla talks. You might think the point with this is to complain about Mozilla (or other Free and Open Software projects) not hiring enough women? Well it sure isn’t! The truth is that we mainly use these stats to show how few women *dare* to lead their lives out of the common stereotypes.
“Hey girl, don’t you want to become a nurse instead? You’re into IT crap? What, FLOSS stuff? Certainly not! Do you really want to be ONLY around guy geeks?”
What is true: how many women want to become software developers? And how many of them dare to study for that? Have a look at the incredibly low percentage of women in IT schools in France… and you’ll understand the first issue is that women in general aren’t advised to follow technical courses.
There’s one crystal-clear thing though, for us who live in a FLOSS community (Kinouchou as a Mozilla contributor, Delphine as an employee and Claire as “geek girlfriend”): women are welcome here in the community! And we’re more than happy in the Paris office. Remember: Pascal Chevrel was the first and main person to encourage and help Delphine to start out the WoMoz project: a man helps a woman to team up with other women in order to have more of them at Mozilla! And guess what? In the Paris office, Tristan Nitot (President of Mozilla Europe) is more than happy to be in charge of doing the dishes! 😉
Undoubtedly, Paris was the perfect place to start WoMoz.
So we just wanted to tell, each of us, a little bit of what our every day life with the Mozillians from Paris feels like.
—- Claire, the “Geek Girlfriend” —-
I’m saying it in all our talks, I’m a happy geek girlfriend. I don’t know whether it’d be the same thing if my boyfriend didn’t work for Mozilla in Paris. When Vivien got hired I wanted to meet his co-workers… I was a bit afraid of getting in the middle of a bunch of geeks, but I was given a very warm welcome: only nice people who had the patience to explain what their work was about. And their enthusiasm was so communicative… it became contagious. I got passionate about the FLOSS spirit, and my dear Vivien approved (or even recommended) me in becoming part of it.
Pascal and Delphine, as well as other community members (Fabien, Frédéric, Théocrite) told me about WoMoz, and it felt PERFECT for the feminist I’ve always been! “Feminist” doesn’t even start to describe me: I’ve been a gender equality activist since I’m 15. Believe it or not, my feminist speeches have rarely been as well accepted as by Mozillians – especially in France. I’ve started BonjourMozilla.fr (with Pascal again!) to thank them all and promote what they’re doing for Mozilla.
And here I am, giving WoMoz talks as “geek girlfriend”, where I can (kindly^^) mock my boyfriend, geeks in general and even Tristan! Tristan who only tells me one thing: “Keep going!“. Did I mention I’m really happy as a geek girlfriend?
—- Kinouchou, the Mozilla contributor —-
I discovered the French Mozilla community thanks to various FLOSS events where the ubuntu-fr association was present (I’m an Ubuntu contributor). This is how I became a “WoMoz” and that I met many other members during FOSDEM of 2010. This event was also the occasion for me to meet the French community during the evening gatherings, and therefore to find the time to really talk with the different people.
Since then, I’ve been participating in the community through the #frenchmoz IRC channel, the Bonjour Mozilla and at various Mozilla meet-ups. I feel so good and comfortable with Mozillians here that whenever there are Mozilla and Ubuntu-fr meet-ups at the same time, it’s really hard to choose which one to go to! Recently, there was a day where I was blocked in Paris with a meeting in the morning and one in the evening. The question was: where was I going to spend the day between the two? Mozilla welcomed me so warmly that I immediately felt at ease in the Paris office. The atmosphere is as industrious as it is friendly.
To me, Mozilla represents what a community really is: it is not only a group of people that gather around a project or ideals, but also a congregation of caring people, who listen to others. In all, a true family.
—- Delphine, the employee —-
For a long time, I was the only woman present in the Mozilla Paris office. Even now, we are no more than 2. In the French community, there were also *really* few women. But from the start, I’ve never felt left out or treated “differently”. The only thing that “bugged” me was that I thought there was no reason that other women would not like to do what I’m doing, and that there was no reason that they shouldn’t be here as well, being part of Mozilla.
That’s how I started contacting the girls from the Mozilla community and the ones we were meeting at events, so we could do something that could start changing things (the first one being Julia Buchner, active WoMoz contributor and co-founder of the project). And that’s how we ended up with WoMoz. We know that each FLOSS community and each country have different issues with women in FLOSS. We definitely don’t deny that and we want to do something about it as well. But we were lucky here not to have major sexism issues or anything of the sort. Maybe it’s because we all know each other. Maybe it’s because we see each other regularly. Maybe it’s because we trust each other. There might be many reasons, but this is not the point.
Claire and Kinouchou have brilliantly described above what their experience in the French Mozilla community is like, and I agree on all points with them. This community and the colleagues I work with are what made me want to join Mozilla full-time and to dedicate my time to this job. I’ve never known this kind of atmosphere before in a job, and was always afraid I’d never find it other than with my friends. When I realized it existed, I starting clinging to it real hard, as much as I could. And I’m so happy – and happy is not even strong enough here – to be part of all this. My ideals now meet both my job and the people I work with. And I wouldn’t want it any other way 🙂