"techno-feminist" perspective (Wajcman 2004). Staying away from a reductionism that simplifies the gender issue in the FLOSS community to the level of a fight between men and women, the issues I attempt to address include not only the inequality that women face in computing, but also other inequalities that other users face mainly emerging from
the power relationships between expert and lay (namely, developer and user) in software design. Instead of splitting women and men in the FLOSS development, this analysis helps motivate both men and women to work together, reduce the gender gap, and improve the disadvantaged
statuses of women and a wider users community in the FLOSS development.
The features of FLOSS have been said to open up a range of opportunities to change the power relationships in society: experts and lay, developers and users, developed and
developing countries, rich and poor etc. The feature of low development cost, modularised features, transparent information are particularly celebrated in a knowledge-based society.
Whereas FLOSS is re/presented as a weapon to fight against proprietary software companies such as Microsoft, neither have we seen an equal status for all members involved
in the FLOSS development, nor have we seen an accessible channel for all interested people to enter this world. Drawing on new perspectives in feminist theory and science and
technology studies, I challenge the power emerging from the skills of programming and of designing technologies that overlooks the requirements of having user-friendly technologies. And it is exactly because of this misconception on the coding skill, it makes the composition and structure in the FLOSS social world imbalanced. This misconception fosters a false impression that FLOSS is too technical and difficult to use. This kind of misunderstanding discourages many people, including women, to participate in the FLOSS development, and subsequently results in an imbalance in gender, race, and class. Today, when we criticise the women status in the FLOSS social world, we must not forget that a feminist critique not only apply on gender issues, but it aims to challenge all kinds of power inequalities in the world. I
have proposed to look at the attitude in favour of (if not worshiping) people who own programming skills when examining the reason why there are so few women in FLOSS.
Instead of narrowing the gender argument down to a fight between men and women, I argue that this is not only about men and women, but about all majority and minority, the powerful and the powerless class. In viewing the problem from a wider angle, we can overcome many dilemmas such as if designing software for women is needed. After all, it is not whether software should be designed for men or for women; it is whether the software is designed for users without taking too much pride of the developers. I have introduced three women-led FLOSS groups working persistently in this direction: LinuxChix, Debian-women and Women’s Information Technology Transfer (WITT). These groups facilitate the networking and provide mutual help amongst women participants in the FLOSS development. They help maintain a pool of women who will not only promote ICT use but also promote a feminist approach of
design and usage of ICT. Although this paper has been focusing on the gender-related issues specifically in the FLOSS development, the analytic concepts introduced here can and should be widely applied to software design and other technological designs to explore the ways in which technologies are gendered in their design and use.