Greetings and welcome to our Women in Open Source blog!

Rikki Kite

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Jan 23, 2008 GMT
Rikki Kite

The idea for this blog actually started quite a few months ago when our publisher, editor in chief, and I were discussing new projects during a dinner meeting. At the time, I'd noticed an increase in online discussions about women in open source, and I'd been thinking about ways to participate that would also fit well with my role as Managing Editor of Linux Pro Magazine and Linux Magazine International. We agreed that a blog highlighting women in open source – the people, projects, organizations, events, articles, issues, and news – seemed like a great fit.

During my 11 years in IT publishing, I've been fortunate to work closely with a nice mix of women and men and have been lucky to have several mentors. I realize, however, that my experience isn't the norm for women in open source – although I have one foot in the world of open source, my other foot is firmly planted in the publishing universe where women aren't so scarce. In fact, women hold a range of positions in our company – the CEO of our parent company is a woman, and our art director, managing editor, proofreader, several columnists, and the majority of our sales team are women. However, FLOSSPOLS statistics indicate that women make up a mere 1.5% of the FLOSS community, a gender disparity that is evident to me at open source conferences and trade shows.

There are quite a few blogs and articles debating the reasons why there aren't more women in open source. For example, Val Henson's in-depth article "HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux" suggests that confidence, opportunities for friendship or mentoring, and life-work balance are some factors that contribute to women participating in open source. Angela Byron's Ontario Linux Fest talk is available online, and she agrees with a lot of points Val brings up, including the idea of balancing life and work. As a developer for Drupal, Angela admits that her balance is work-heavy. Val suggests that one way to encourage women in Linux is to discuss broader topics, which we plan to do with this blog. In addition to developers, there are a variety of women in open source who help document, market, promote, teach, and contribute in a range of other areas that serve the open source community while balancing life and work.

One suggestion Angela made at the Ontario Linux Fest is to seek out other women in open source, which is another idea we took to heart when creating this new blog. We'll look at women in all areas of open source, not just the developers and admins. We'll also cover the world of open source rather than a particular flavor or one continent.

Keep in mind that this blog is intended for men, too. Over the years I've met many men in this field who are interested in women participating in open source, and several have helped me personally. My colleagues, for example, helped me roll out this blog, and my long-time friend Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier has always encouraged me (and been supportive of women in the community in general).

In addition to covering a range of open source topics of interest to both men and women, we have other expectations for this blog:

  • We hope that it will be a community effort. You can contribute by emailing me links to articles and news, feedback, announcements, and other information you have about women in open source.
  • We'll do our best to set a professional, inclusive, positive tone on this blog, and we assume readers who contribute or comment on blog entries will do the same. Constructive feedback is welcome, but remember that we do want to encourage discussion while also making new people feel welcome and encouraging everyone to get involved in open source.

Thanks again for stopping by, and we hope to hear from you soon!

References:

  1. O'Reilly's Women in Tech series: http://www.oreillynet.com/womenintech/
  2. FLOSSPOLS findings: http://www.flosspols.org/deliverables/FLOSSPOLS-D16-Gender_Integrated_Report_of_Findings.pdf
  3. Val Henson's article "HOWTO Encourage Women in Linux": http://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/
  4. Angela Byron's Women in Open Source talk: http://www.archive.org/details/onlinux_womeninopensource
  5. Ontario Linux Fest: http://onlinux.ca/
  6. LinuxChix Women in Open Source/Free Software bibliography: http://www.linuxchix.org/women-open-source-free-software-bibliography.html
  7. Joe "Zonker" Brockmeier's article "It's Time to Retire the Mom Test": http://www.linux.com/feature/118863

Comments

  • opinion

    I personally prefer fedora http://www.ebook-search-queen.com/ebook/fedo/fedora.all.html more than any of the other distros, but I installed ubuntu on an external a while back. The problem with putting it on the same drive as your OSX system is that the disc utility that comes with mac osx cannot partition drives without reformatting the entire drive. This is pretty much what boot camp does, partitions your harddrive without erasing anything, but it dosn't make the extra partition free space, it sets it up for windows to be installed on the intel macs.
  • About time!

    Great to see you (finally) blogging! You've been part of this industry behind the scenes for quite a long time, so I think you're going to have a lot to contribute to the conversation.

    In general, I think the open source community would benefit a LOT from looking to find ways to get everyone involved -- not just programmers. There are so many opportunities for non-developers to do good work, but the community doesn't do a great job of welcoming people who aren't programmers, or giving them a roadmap where they can get started.

    I hope that, in part, your blog will help to match up people with skillsets outside of software development with friendly projects that are looking to put those folks to work.
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