When talking about women in free software or political correctness in general, we seem to focus on saying things that "don't offend" the minority group. But that's not what it's about. It's about saying things that encourage people to join your group, that send the right message and represent our values. While not saying things that send them away. The focus should be on making the message welcoming, not on making the message "not offending."
Showing a woman in a bikini in your ad may not offend any women, but will it encourage them to join your project? If you are looking to bring women to your project, not showing the woman in a bikini is the first step. The next step – and the much harder one – is figuring out what to do to show them they are welcome.
It's not about not offending, it's about understanding, encouraging, relating, being welcoming.
There are a lot of groups that I'm not part of. Most of them have not offended me. I just don't feel any pull to join them.
An example of this would be Amazon and the Kindle. One of the Kindle's biggest customer groups is women. And Amazon shows lots of women in its Kindle ads. They are all lying on the beach or by the pool relaxing. The women I know that use Kindles use them after their kids go to bed or in doctors' offices or while waiting at their kid's soccer practice. Amazon is missing a chance to connect to those women.
Where are we missing the chance to connect and encourage groups to participate?