Mark Shuttleworth recently copped some flack for allegedly sexist content in a talk. I wasn't there, and haven't seen the talk, so I can't really comment on the material itself, but a few things struck me about some of the online responses:
- Many of the people complaining weren't there - they watched the video footage online. Why would you do this? If you suspect that there's going to be content that offends you, don't watch it. If you do decide to watch it, I'm not sure you can complain too loudly when (surprise surprise) you are offended by it.
- Yes, IT is a male dominated field - for whatever reason (there's lots of research discussing why this is, but that's for you to find). That's not to say that sexism should be inherent, or even tolerated, but it is to be expected. Anyone shocked by this statement should try working in other male-dominated fields, such as construction or engineering. No, it's not right, but it's how it is.
I met Mark briefly at a Linux conference a number of years ago and he seemed to me to be a straight-talking, reasonably honest, good natured kind of guy. I'm sure he made an honest mistake, and regrets his choice of words. I would urge Mark to apologise, and urge everyone who complained to spend the same amount of energy protesting equally important matters such as software patents, or advocacy for open, sane standards.