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Fscons Keynote Free Software Feminism


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Women's contribution to Free Software

Published in: Technology
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Fscons Keynote Free Software Feminism

  1. 1. Free Software and Feminism Christina Haralanova FSCONS, 15 November 2009
  2. 2. The AWID Forum 2008 ● 2200 women gathered in Cape Town ● To discuss, unite and network ● Feminist Tech Exchange (FTX) talking about software freedom
  3. 3. Feminism, power and movements Feminism strives for shifting power with the idea of equality in mind. Not with the aim to make men powerless, but to ensure powerless are represented.
  4. 4. Women in software development ● 1,1% of women in FOSS development, according to Flosspols (2002) ● 25-28% of women in proprietary software Reasons?
  5. 5. The software industry Free Software field ● Stereotyping kids ● Hard to start : lack of courses in school ● School divide curricula, finding ● Male gaming industry friends who can help ● Gap in computer ● Low confidence and initiation: 12 years for perception that you boys and 15 – for girls never know enough ● Challenges of a male ● Women are often dominated profession noticed more as women (unequal pay, glass than as contributors ceiling, etc.) ● Insults, *jokes*, doubts of her intelligence
  6. 6. Hierarchising contributions ● The super value of the coding skill in FOSS dev ● However, developer's profession consists of 30% coding ● “To make FLOSS successful, we need not only Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds, but also a great amount of volunteers reporting and fixing bugs, writing documentation, and more importantly, teach users how to use the program” (Lin, 2006).
  7. 7. Documentation  can  be  a  means  of  quality  insurance,  and  this power is far too seldom used, not only in Open Source  development.The  people  who  write  the  best  code  I  know  write  documentation  alongside  or  even  before  coding:  The  code has to follow documentation, otherwise it's a bug :), at  least documentation and code are never allowed to get out of  sync. Which means documentation_is_development, not just  something subordinate.     Patricia Jung,2005   about Debian Project
  8. 8. Why is this problematic?
  9. 9. ● Women and men contribute differently to FS development ● While men are overrepresented in tasks related to coding, women engage more often in writing documentation, graphic interface, moderation, training ● Not because women are not technical enough, but because not all of them have the necessary background and confidence contribute to the code.
  10. 10. (Re)define FS Development ● Two risks coming from the problem: ● Women's work remains invisible and less appreciated because of its less technical nature ● If all activities related to FOSS development are not taken as equally important, the software will become more oriented to the developers and not to the users ● Convergence between social and technical activities => a way to valorise women's contribution => more women will become visible
  11. 11. Conclusion ● 1% ● In the study “Portrait of FS in Quebec”, participated 16% of women ● Women at conferences are usually 10 % and > ● Female speakers at Oekonux = 23% ● Women in Drupal are more than 10% (core developers, leads, and others)