FSF and GNOME Calling Women of Community

Aug 26, 2009

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the GNOME Foundation are targeting higher women's participation in the community. The first step is a "mini-summit" on "Women in Free Software."

The event was planned by Stormy Peters, executive director of the GNOME Foundation, author Hillary Rettig of the "The Lifelong Activist" and Deborah Nicholson, membership coordinator at the Free Software Foundation. The three organizers want to gather women technologists, activists and scholars together at their Boston location to develop strategies and initiatives to foster sustained participation by women in the free software community. Nicholson plans to present success stories from other sources: "Individual projects have found ways to make women welcome and we will look at some of these examples and discuss how to build on those successes. We will also identify new strategies and tactics to help create a balanced community." GNOME Foundation's Peters sees the action as the basis for a longer term strategy by both foundations and "to make policy and program recommendations to the FSF and the wider community to further this goal" of encouraging women to participate.

Both the foundation behind the free desktop and behind free software support the action on the grounds that women in technology so far have remained in the minority. The growing free software movement seems to have had little effect on gender demographics. This fundamental mismatch seems to be corroborated by a recent study by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology in Palo Alto CA. The report from the summer of 2009 layed out some U.S. educational figures: in 2006 only 20% of computer science students were women going for their bachelor's degree, 4.5% went on to master's degree and only 0.5% got their doctorate. In other countries, such as Germany, women make up only 10 to 15% of computer science students.

Linux Magazine/Linux Pro Magazine has been busy covering women's issues. The ROSE Blog Interviews series has been approaching women already active in the open source community for arguments in favor of drumming up participation. Among those interviewed so far were Carla Schroder, managing editor of Linux Today, urban ecologist Kelaine Vargas and Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock.


  • This article.

    Why? It is good for Men to have something to themselves, especially when it is them who have done the work. Yet you need to cast dispersions upon them at every oppertunity.

    I doubt this will be allowed through.
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