Open-source needs more women developers
Only about 2% of the thousands of developers working on open-source software projects are women, a number that women already involved in the open-source movement want to see increased.
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.
The barriers to women in open-source development include chauvinism from some male developers who post or verbalize nasty comments as well as an "old boys network" that discourages them from taking part in open-source projects, said panel members.
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.
For Mitchell Baker, president of the open-source Mozilla Foundation, getting involved in that project meant being persistent and gaining a reputation for good work.