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Link to Part 1.

Hi. My name is Moose. I am member #2 of the League of Professional System Administrators (LOPSA). Low membership numbers are reserved for the board to assign. I, and three others, were given membership numbers 1-4 by being part of the "Leadership Committee", the people who helped form the original board for the organization. [LOPSA history, if you're curious.] When the chair of the LC left in early 2008 the board told us we could find our own replacement and choose our own chair. [LOPSA's bylaws on committees.] We chose a new member and I became the chair of the Leadership Committee.

As mentioned in the previous post, I am active with the Education Committee [EduComm] and have been since it's inception.

I am also a member of the technical team. These are, amusingly, the sysadmins to the sysadmins. Briefly, we run the stuff behind Mostly I deal with the mailing lists, but if something else crops up I will try to help, if I can.

All of this may be why in 2007 LOPSA awarded me with a "Volunteer of the Year" award. This was the first time the award was given.

On June 30 (2010) I was informed by the President of the LOPSA Board that I am no longer the chair of the Leadership Committee, nor a member of it. The reasons given were:

1) People are refusing to volunteer because of me. Specifically, I go to conferences and am "rude and obnoxious". People have been saying they do not want to get involved in the organization if I am.

2) Not "doing the job right." Part of the charge of the LC is "leadership development." Because of our (heavily implied, my) failings, LOPSA is struggling.

However, I was told, the Board wants me to know how much they appreciate all my hard work and want me to continue with all the other areas I volunteer with the organization.

Is that so?

Let's start with 2. There is, officially, a board liason to the leadership committee. I couldn't begin to tell you who it is. Nobody from the board ever, in 4+ yrs, said anything more to the LC than "Nice job running the election." Nobody said, "We need to find more volunteers." Or, "We need to find volunteers to help with XYZ." Or, "Could you report on your actions on finding us more volunteers."

The LOPSA bylaws state that the LC shall "cultivate and promote volunteer participation and leadership in the Association." The LC decided (before I became chair) that this meant finding people, labeling them as potential board members, and then watching how they continued to interact with the org, and sometimes nudging them to get more involved.

Let me make this simple: The LC job is to find people to be involved. The Board's job is to run the org and tell the LC, and other committees, what to do. When they decided after years that the LC wasn't doing it's job correctly, they communicated this displeasure by removing me from the committee.

In a way this is now water under the bridge. I could not (would not) return to the Leadership Committee. But their actions speak loudly about how the organization is run.

Now, let's talk about "rude and obnoxious" me. If you know me you know that I am not shy about stating my opinions. I do have a bit of a temper [and recognize it]; I do try to keep it in check or, at least, apologize if I lose it. However I also have no tolerance for inexcusable stupidity and bad behaviour. I am also intolerant of bigotry, not limited to sexism.

Let me repeat something I said in the last post:

Sexist behaviour is openly tolerated within LOPSA.

The LOPSA IRC channel is a 24 hour place for sysadmins to talk sysadmin stuff. Occasionally the topic veers off -- food and cooking are common themes. Occasionally some new person, usually male, comes in and assumes things. I have been talked down to by newbies who see the "miz" in front of my name and assume that means that I need to have explained to me the most basic issues in my field. Infrequently, someone who has been around for a while says something way out of bounds. If I am there to see it I am not shy about saying something. And, needless to say, they fight back.

When I've complained about it I've been told, "We can speak to him but there is no policy, so I can't just pick on him." If I point out that this happens not infrequently I'm told, "You have to report it when it happens, we can't fix what we can't see."

[I'm staring right now at an IRC log where someone starts going off about how "smart women who can code are so hot." I did, in fact, ask him to stop, then tell him to STFU. Then called him an asshole. His response was that being an asshole was normal behaviour for him.]

I wonder how many complaints about my "rude" and "obnoxious" behaviour come from my reactions to people like that. If you read the log you'll see how others egg the jerk on or laugh about it all, mentioning things like "I'm making popcorn" and "it's mizmoose vs $user, battle royale!"

I should be clear, however, that many of the males on the LOPSA IRC channel do not tolerate sexist bullshit and also call it out. (But, hey, they're men, so it's ok with the sexist nitwits for another man to tell him to cut it out.)

Another response to complaints about sexism is, "Well we need a policy before we can take any actions." It's been five (5) yrs and in that time LOPSA has not seen fit to create any sort of statement about appropriate online behaviour. I've been asking for this to be created. And asking. And asking. Each time, whomever I talk to acts like it's a brand new idea and says something like, "Gee, we really should look into that! I'll bring it up at the next board meeting."

As a comparison, last summer I realized that the Ohio LinuxFest needed a diversity statement so I drafted one. It took me about a half hour, plus a couple of days to get it approved. It says, in part:

We do not discriminate based on ethnic background, religion, gender, sexuality, body shape, disability, or even what operating system you use. We also do not tolerate harassment based on discrimination.

So, really, I keep hearing vague stories about people within LOPSA who "hate" me. I hear about "many complaints" about my "rude" and "unprofessional" behaviour. (And these are actual quotes from various communications I've received.) I have asked the LOPSA board to actually show me some of these alleged complaints. I've been completely open about the people I know who are and have been reluctant to get more involved in LOPSA due to the person mentioned in the last post. They can do the same and be open with me.

Note: just heard from the LOPSA president, he is "gathering data" and contacting the complainers to make sure they are OK with me knowing who they are. Please note that there is NO policy about any sort of conflict resolution. This means that the same people who are using "There is no policy so I cannot stop the sexism" are using lack of policy to let people make effectively anonymous complaints about me, and then using these complaints to be judge and jury.

So far the only thing close to concrete I have is a comment in the last post by hcoyote stating that I am the one and only reason he quit being a director on the LOPSA Board. I would really, really like to understand how this is so. He, too, has yet to explain further.

Of course, as I said, this "rude" and "unprofessional" behaviour may come from my refusing to quietly let sexist behaviour go on.

There is much more I can say on this subject, but for now I think I've said enough. I will leave you with this final thought:

Maybe I am a terrible person. Maybe I am rude and obnoxious and I neither see it or recognize it in myself. Maybe I owe some people apologies, though if I do I wish I would know what I have done. Maybe all this bad stuff about me is really true.

But if I'm so rude and obnoxious that people do not want to volunteer because of me, why would I be encouraged to stick with the Education Committee, whose job is not only to coordinate and run training events, but to staff tables at conferences and encourage people to join the organization. Is that really where you want rude and obnoxious people?

Link to Part 2.5



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 16th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
it is sexism and it does count
I know LOPSA isn't specific to Linux or free software, but all of the same principles apply...

yes it is sexist when you assume a woman needs extra "explaining"
yes it is sexist when you create a sexual dialogue on who's "hot"
yes you need to call the guilty out
yes men should take a stand and not allow this behavior
Jul. 16th, 2010 07:03 pm (UTC)
This is everything that makes it difficult for women to get into/stay in high tech in a nutshell. I wonder if any "women in high tech" blogs would be interested in giving it a wider audience.
Jul. 20th, 2010 04:26 pm (UTC)
This has been linkspammed on Geek Feminism.

I just want to say how familiar this feels, and how angry it makes me that tech org after tech org keeps on going down this same damn rabbithole.

And, of course, that I'm sorry you were the target this time.
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
We don't know each other - I followed a link to this post from Geek Feminism - but I just wanted to say thank you. I am currently being denied promotion in my (non-tech, but in a large tech company) job for almost identical reasons and under very similar circumstances.

I hope you don't mind if I use your extremely lucid words as an inspiration for my upcoming HR complaint about the matter.
Jul. 30th, 2010 01:19 am (UTC)
Thanks for this post! The story about SCALE was also very interesting.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


Moose J. Finklestein

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