P2P Foundation

The Foundation for Peer to Peer Alternatives

Dear friends,

I cannot help but notice that most of our community is still very male dominated. I'm not sure about the reasons for this, and it is certainly not intentional. So here is a special appeal to invite female friends and colleagues interested in the open and p2p paradigms.

Thanks for helping in making our community more diverse,


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Welcome Caroline, I hope you find things of interest and contribute your own experience and knowledge on p2p matters as well,

Hi Michel
what is more diverse??
An artificial 50%/50%???
Men and women are (luckily ) not equal, they are antagonistic/complimentary so give it time. Of course most of the first enrollers are men, it is their nature, and I hope women will join soon too, but they 'll need some more content to react before they join.Probably P2P for women does not means the same as P2P for men, but it does n't mean we can work together.Hi Caroline Zeller, welcome to P2P ( et en plus de Belgique!) :D
Since that first posting, we have been joined by quite a bit more women participants!

it is not always our nature to NOT step in first. Often it is what the community is like, how conversation happens, how welcome people feel.... and thank you for raising the questions
Many of the first Peer2Peer articles I found seemed smart, long and well... dry. I learned alot yet was somewhat intimidated by it all... so I stepped into this pool to read and learn more. Thank you
Hi Kare, we all have our style limitations .. thanks for pitching in!!

I'm not yet convinced that this is a static state, or that our style needs to be limitation. If we want to revolutionize technology, we must also be willing to revolutionize the way we think, talk to, and hear each other (my other post on $ was about listening). Don't you think?
As a psychotherapist and social activist who has also been very, very curious about how technology will continue to connect and empower people and at the same time is learning how to be a part of that movement, I can relate to how "dry" these discussions can feel. Dry is how I describe writing/conversations that are purely intellectual, abstract, or general. I think that some of things that make conversations like these much more palatable (and dare I say therefore "juicy") to the average tech-savvy woman is specificity, real examples, and inclusiveness in how ideas are communicated. I believe it is these things that create a more engaging and ripe environment for diverse opinions in general (not just from women) to be shared.

Thank you for asking this question Michel.
I've just read that the free software movement only counts 2% female participants, so we're doing better.

Thanks a lot for pitching in, which is of course one of the reasons I asked the question.

I hope to make the p2p f environment as welcome as possible for diverse audiences,but it carries the legacy of the one's who start it, and their limitations.

It's not that I'm/we are not willing to change, we do our best, but we can't do it alone, and so, it is also through your own participation that we'll succeed in making it more attractive,

In order to get the full context for this post, please read the discussion under the previous post on "P2P Social Currency", which can be found at: http://p2pfoundation.ning.com/forum/topics/2003008:Topic:7140?page=1


I believe that purely intellectual movements (ones driven by intellectuals) never manage to lead the world.

The P2P movement in general and the work of P2P foundation, even since I first talked to Michel in 2006, has contributed to tangible progress in people's awareness.

But I'm afraid that it's locked into an intellectual discussion where people, including myself as an example, try to fix the problem before they address the shared feelings surrounding the problem.

And it's my belief that for a movement to lead the world it has to have not only gender balance but an explicit balance between thinking and feeling our way around the issues.

In my follow-up responses under "P2P Social Currency" post, I've tried to state the case as follows:

"For example, if I felt angry about my iPod malfunctioning I may take a hammer and flatten the thing or I may send it in for repair. It all depends on how I feel about the problem. Thus, if I feel angry about the problem of 'unconscious money' (how money is defined and used today) then I may bring a nuke to a sword fight. Thus, if I feel angry about the problem of 'unconscious money' (how money is defined and used today) then I may bring a nuke to a sword fight. On the other hand, if I get to talk about and reflect on my feelings around the problem (of 'unconscious money') then I am more likely to apply the right solution to it.

So that's what I'm trying to do here, i.e. talk about and reflect on my feelings around the problem rather than jump to the solution, even though I have already went ahead and proposed a solution that may or may not be the right solution."

However, unless there is gender balance I feel that most male participants are inclined, like me, to go up in their head and try to find a solution before they actually talk about and reflect on their feelings around the problem.

The problem is most male participants, including myself, are intellectuals/thinkers and are unlikely to explore and talk about how their feelings around the given problem and more likely to jump right into discussing the solution.

So I think your call for Gender Balance makes complete sense.

I've invited one female participant who also happens to have a higher degree in psychology but I believe that women in general have an intuitive understanding of the need to address the feelings we have around a problem before trying to fix it.

I'm hoping that the women in the crowd would get engaged in this debate about the need to address/reflect on feelings around a problem before attempting to fix it, especially since that's what all women I know do.
Thanks for asking this Michel; and great responses.

My research and observations on online communities and women participation in the digital environment has led me to derive the following thoughts (which are not independent of each other):

1) Structure of the online environment: there's a huge focus on the structure of language, especially the written word, as the main interaction point between people in online communities. By no means do I imply that women can't write - there are some awesome female writers I have seen in various online communities - it's just that women generally do not 'jump' into online discussions that easily...some gender studies argue that women thrive better on 'contextual' interactions, which can be understood that they need more than the spoken/written word in order to communicate better. Think body language, facial expressions, and long-term relationships.

2) Security and belonging: In one case study I have done with a women-only farmers' community in Australia, I was trying to encourage their participation in an online portal I have launched. The first few months of the project proved disastrous - participation was non-existent. Then I found various reasons for the lack of participation...some of these reasons were not tagged to gender, and some were, such as: sense of threat in participating in an online community in an 'open' way (there was a feeling that one would be putting herself 'out there' and 'exposing herself unnecessarily' without any good grounds for doing so), and lack of belonging in an online environment.

3) In the same case study I also realised that the reason for the lack of participation was probably also due to the fact that the community was a 'real' one in reality. The women in the group met together often, and even those who didn't, interacted with one another often enough through email, telephone, and skype. So there was no need to see the online portal as a means of communication to discuss ideas, thoughts, etc. I narrowed this observation down to one thing I see almost everyday/all my life: women go to the restrooms in pairs (sometimes groups) while men just don't do that (men go to the restroom, do whatever they need to, and they exit...full stop. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzO1mCAVyMw for details). Some women are community-oriented by nature (there are real communities happening in restrooms) and again, this is related to the earlier points - the structure of communication, the establishment of contextual interactions, and the need for a 'safe' environment (even though this may only be perceived) in their communities and online portals may not always provide these attributes.

And then again, I am always wary about any attempts to 'categorise' people in sweeping statements; which are counter-productive - so I'd like to also say that these are only general observations, and of course there are exceptions. On the flip side, the structure and various catalysts in the virtual environment can also be addressed to encourage female participation. Personally, I think any online community will go through the same stages/processes of face to face community - introduction, growth, coalescence, defection, maturity, etc. The velocity of growth for the Internet/online communities has simply not allowed many the luxury of keeping up their participation and integration into many communities.

My one cent worth. Would be interesting to read more of other studies in this area, if any.
thanks Natalie, I've read it with great interest,





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