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Breaking down the gender divide in open source

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OSS

The tipping point for Linux kernel developer Valerie Aurora was when one of her friends was groped for the third time in a single year at a conference. "As I heard about it I knew I'd remember all the times I'd been groped as well, and insulted and harassed — and that was just too much," Aurora says.

Aurora waited a month then emailed Mary Gardiner, who she knew from LinuxChix and Linux.conf.au. The result was the Ada Initiative: A non-profit organisation the two formed that aims to break down barriers women face when it comes to participation in open source, open technology and open culture more broadly.

"I think part of what happens in some of these fields [like open source is that] you have a really extreme minority of women and you get the outsider status that's associated with being an extreme minority," Gardiner says. "People at Linux.conf.au have started it calling it being a unicorn. I think someone last year actually had their camera and would take pictures of women [when they spotted some]."

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