Archive for the ‘Women Outreach in FOSS’ Category

Let’s Make Big Strides

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

I recently became an advisor for the Ada Initiative and I have been a proud donor since it was founded by Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner two and a half years ago to enable full-time work to promote participation of women in open technology and culture. As someone who is also working on increasing participation of women in Free Software, I know it’s an area we can make dramatic progress in in a few years, but it takes a focused and full-time effort to make this change.

Supporting and reaching out to women and other underrepresented groups is essential for extending the opportunities Free Software provides to more people and making our software better. This year, there were 41 women among 230 GUADEC attendees, which is 18% women attendees. Four years ago, there were 8 women among 160 attendees, or 5%. People often comment that it feels more natural that there are more women participating in the conference. I think it feels that way not only because the tone of the conference changes when more women are present, but also because it feels good to know that a whole segment of population is no longer staying out.

Women's dinner at GUADEC

This pent up demand is being echoed in other communities participating in the Outreach Program for Women. The Wikimedia Foundation has 7 women participating in its Google Summer of Code, while they have only ever had one woman participate before. The Linux Kernel had 39 Outreach Program for Women applicants, 11 of whom landed 148 patches during the application process, and 7 of whom were accepted for the program.

The Ada Initiative helps make conferences a friendlier environment for everyone, connects women and allies with its blog and AdaCamps, and helps fight the impostor syndrome which affects many women in technology. I have learned a lot from the Ada Initiative blog, used it as a platform to reach Outreach Program for Women applicants, and met new Outreach Program for Women mentors and coordinators at AdaCamps.

Camille Acey and myself at AdaCamp DC

Camille Acey and myself at AdaCamp DC

A post on the Ada Initiative blog about Courtney Stanton’s effort to attract women speakers to a game conference she organized taught me that even once women are participating in the community, they are hesitant to present at conferences and some encouragement can go a long way. With a supportive e-mail and some brainstorming, we brought the number of women who presented at GUADEC this year to 10, or 21% of speakers, compared to only 4, or 7%, last year.

The size of the strides we can make in increasing the inclusiveness of Free Software depends directly on the financial support the Ada Initiative receives during its current fundraising campaign, which will enable it to plan the breadth of its activities for the next year. Please join me in ensuring we keep making big strides.

Reaching out Together

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

Applications for the new round of the Outreach Program for Women internships are open, and now the program includes not one, not two, but ten participating organizations! The participating organizations are: Deltacloud, Fedora, GNOME, JBoss, Mozilla, Open Technology Institute, OpenITP, OpenStack, Tor, and Wikimedia. The application deadline is December 3, and the internships will take place from January 2 to April 2.

Outreach Program for Women Flyer

Needless to say I’m very excited about this expanded effort and keen to see how it works out. Big thank you to Karen Sandler for the original idea to include multiple organizations in this effort, which she shared with me first time we ever talked on the phone, and for all the work she has done to make it possible! Thank you to Bradley Kuhn from the Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) and to Jessica McKellar from the SFC’s Twisted project for being our first partnering organization last round and helping us figure out how to scale up from one to two. Thank you to Sumana Harihareswara for committing to have Wikimedia participate in the internships and with that putting the wheels in motion for planning this round. She inexplicably thinks it was she who buttonholed me about this at the Google Summer of Code mentors summit, but I came looking to talk to her. Thank you to coordinators and mentors from all the other organizations who joined and are making this happen! Thank you to Máirín Duffy and Barbara Muraus, who updated our program flyer and cartoon, respectively! Thank you to Red Hat for supporting my work on this and committing to sponsor seven internships for the program!

Finally, the biggest thank you to the GNOME community – to all the mentors and past interns and everyone who helped – for being the first adopter of this program and showing it can run successfully!

We still need your help! Although now we have a mentors list with 44 awesome GNOME mentors whom interns can turn to for project ideas, it would be helpful if you added the ideas you have and are willing to mentor to the ideas list for this round. You can also help spread the word about this round by using the prepared e-mail, flyer, or social network updates from our spread the word page or personally encouraging someone to apply.

If your company is able to sponsor one or more internships, either for GNOME or other organizations, it would be really helpful. Each organization only has 1-3 internship spots funded at the moment. Please let Karen and me know if you can help.

We are planning to have another round in the summer, so if your organization would like to join the program then, please come talk to us too.