The 1 September tech talk was deferred in light of Labor Day Weekend — the series resumed with Kragen Sitaker’s report on his trip to Portland for OSCON. In related news, we may pick up a discussion themed around this panel, reported on in Computerworld and flagged by ACM News Service:
“Panel: Open-Source Needs More Women Developers”
Computerworld (08/08/05); Weiss, Todd R.
A panel discussion at the seventh annual O’Reilly Open Source Convention last week focused on the severe underrepresentation of women in open-source projects. Panelists cited academic and private studies estimating that only about 2 percent of open-source software developers are female, compared to around 25 percent of proprietary software developers. Among the obstacles facing women in open-source development is chauvinistic male developers and the presence of an “old boys network” that discourages participation, according to panel members. Open Source Institute board member Danese Cooper said the establishment of women-focused groups in some open-source communities is one idea under consideration. Mozilla Foundation President Mitchell Baker noted that family obligations can limit the amount of time female developers spend on open-source projects, while panelist Zaheda Bhorat of Google concurred that open-source development requires a significant investment in time. Sun Microsystems’ Claire Giordano reported that women can encourage other women to participate in open-source projects. Meanwhile, Perl Foundation President Allison Randal stressed the importance of being hardworking and assertive, and not worrying over how male developers might react.
That issue was the topic of a panel discussion here on Friday, the last day of the seventh annual O’Reilly Open Source Convention, as the panel discussed ways to reverse that pattern. The 2% figure was gleaned from several university and private studies, according to panel members, and is much smaller than in the proprietary software industry, where some 25% of all developers are women.
One idea being considered is the creation of women-focused groups in some open-source communities, said Danese Cooper, a board member of the Open Source Institute and an open-source advocate at Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. At least one such group, called Debian Women, has been created within the Debian community; So far, four women have joined the project because of that group. Creation of a similar group is being discussed within the Apache open-source community, she said.