Increasing participation of Women in Free and Open Source Software

Marina Zhurakhinskaya | OpenSource.Com | April 16, 2013

Few women have been historically applying for Google Summer of Code, a program in which Google provides stipends for students to work for three months on FOSS projects. Last year, after many efforts by both the Google team and the community to increase the diversity in the program, about 100 of 1200 participants or 8.3% were women, which was a highest level of participation by women yet.

Women do not have high representation in computer science in general. In the US, women represent 25% of all software developers and 18% of students currently graduating with computer science degrees. However, even compared to these numbers, 8.3% women in Google Summer of Code and about 3% women in FOSS show a drastic underrepresentation.

The reasons more women don't apply for Google Summer of Code are the same reasons more of them don't participate in FOSS in general. Sometimes women are not sure if other FOSS contributors will treat them respectfully. Women are less likely to embark on the solitary exploration typically needed to get up to speed in FOSS. Even if a woman knows someone who is involved in FOSS, she might still not be encouraged to join in or might choose to stay out because she would not want to be the only woman in the group.


Open Health News' Take: 

Good article. For more on women in technology and the world of free & open source software (FOSS), check out  Women In Technology International (WITI)The National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT)The Ada Initiative, and other collected news items & resources posted on OHNews.   -  Peter Groen, Senior Editor, OHNews