Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ

Why are there so few women in the computer field / F/OSS

There are a lot of theories about this, but no one can know for sure. However, Ellen Spertus has a wonderful paper, Why Are There So Few Female Computer Scientists? that will explain some of the cultural phenomena that might be a cause. Also, please read Val Henson's HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux.

Why segregate yourselves? Why not just integrate yourselves with Debian?

We're not segregated. Debian Women is a subgroup of Debian that allows anyone to join and help. We consist of Debian developers, contributors, and users. The purpose is to get women involved in all aspects of Debian, and having obvious role models and a community assists with that goal.

How is Debian Women affiliated with Debian?

We have a website and mailing list on Debian servers and are considered a subproject.

Who designed your logo?

Dana Sibera, graphics designer extraordinaire, designed our beautiful logo, which we appreciate very much.

Aren't there already lots of "women in technology" groups? How is this different?

Yes, there are quite a few that are all doing wonderful things. Debian Women is different for a few reasons: the primary difference is that our focus is very specific, in the we want to get women involved in Debian particularily. This is also less of a support-based group, and more action-oriented. The project is also unique because Debian is the first distribution to have such a group.

What sorts of activities will you do?

While we're going through the process of getting more women involved, we will likely have sessions involving introductions to the Debian bug tracking system, bug-squashing parties, etc. In the long-tem, we'd like to set up workshops for young students and collaborate with university computer groups. We'd also like to work together with pre-existing groups inside and outside of Debian, such as Gnurias, LinuxChix, Genderchangers, Skolelinux, debian-edu, et al. Suggestions and ideas welcome!

How do I get involved?

The first thing to do is subscribe to the mailing list if you haven't already. Next, have a look at our TODO list. If you see anything you'd be interested in helping out with, send an email to the list to let everyone know you're working on it. If you need more clarification, please email Erinn or the list. If you want to assist with documentation writing or website changes, please make an account on Alioth and let Erinn know so that she can add you to the Debian Women project.

Why isn't there a Debian Men or Debian $SPECIAL_INTEREST_GROUP?

Because it hasn't been requested. The existence of Debian Women does not prevent anyone from requesting the creation of a new list or subproject.

How do I subscribe to the list?

You can subscribe to the Debian Women mailing list by sending an email to with the subject subscribe. Likewise, you can use the web-based form at

Is there an IRC channel?

Yes. #debian-women on For more information on the IRC channel, please refer to the IRC FAQ below.

Is this project English-only? Is the mailing list?

The project is currently "English preferred". The majority of the people on the list speak English, if not as a primary language, at least fluently. For now, we would prefer for people to speak English, so that more people can participate in the conversations.

Mailing List FAQ

What's on topic for the mailing list?

If it pertains to women in Debian, it's probably on topic. That said, we're not trying to recreate debian-user, debian-mentors, or debian-devel. The list is primarily for discussing Debian Women related projects and collaboration.

Are there any special rules for the list?

Not really. All we ask is that you:
  • Post useful messages
  • Don't flame
  • Don't troll
Debian lists are archived publicly. Keep this in mind when you post. For further Debian mailing list information, please see the Code of Conduct.


Just like every other online community, there will probably be the occasional troll. Do not make the mistake of treating them like rational human beings. Ignore them and focus on positive discussions instead.

One very useful document that everyone subscribing to the list should read is: Searching for Safety Online: Managing "Trolling" in a Feminist Forum.

It is also important to note that someone expressing a dissenting opinion does not need to be treated poorly. If you have nothing useful to add, please think twice before sending off an angry message. The only thing this does is exacerbate the situation and it is best to be avoided. Poor treatment in general is not condoned regardless of who has the majority opinion.


How do I get on IRC?

For people that have never been on IRC before, you should first install an IRC client. Popular Linux clients available in Debian are
X-Chat and irssi. Once installed, connect to and /join #debian-women. For more general IRC information, read this.

What are the rules for the IRC channel?

  • No flaming, trolling, etc. This goes both ways. People that disagree with you are not automatically trolls.
  • If you flame and/or troll people, or a channel operator believes you are causing problems, you run the risk of being warned and then quieted or banned. How agreeable your opinion is to the rest of the channel does not make a difference when you are sufficiently abrasive, or disruptive in other ways.
  • See our statement on Behaviour on the #debian-women IRC channel for more details and guidelines for appropriate behaviour on the IRC channel.

If you have suggestions for these FAQs, please email Erinn Clark.