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Feminism & Open Source Contribution


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How can we change the models of open source contribution to be more open and equal? Given at Write/Speak/Code on June 22, 2012.

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Feminism & Open Source Contribution

  1. 1. Corey Latislaw @corey_latislawPam Selle @pamasaurSlides:
  2. 2. Challenge old models withnew thought patterns.
  3. 3. What does it look like?• Writing tests• Writingdocumentation• Cleaning up bad code
  4. 4.  Feminism Current Model New Model What you can do
  5. 5. "Feminism is the radical notion thatwomen are people. -Rebecca West
  6. 6.  "the theory of the political, economic, andsocial equality of the sexes"
  7. 7.  Different flavors of feminism Intersectionality In open source
  8. 8. "[Women] are not sure if other communitymembers will treat them respectfully, prefernot to be the only woman in the group, or areuncertain about embarking on the solitaryexploration typically needed to get up tospeed in open source.-Zhurakhinskaya
  9. 9. "...hindrances to participation includ[e] a lackof mentors and role models, discriminatinglanguage usage, a male–dominated competitiveworld view, and a lack of women–centeredperspectives.-Reagle
  10. 10. "Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no suchthing as a structureless group. Any group of people ofwhatever nature coming together for any length of time, forany purpose, will inevitably structure itself in some fashion.The structure may be flexible, it may vary over time, it mayevenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources overthe members of the group. But it will be formed regardless ofthe abilities, personalities and intentions of the peopleinvolved. The very fact that we are individuals with differenttalents, predispositions and backgrounds makes thisinevitable."-Freeman
  11. 11.  "Paying your dues Traditional devaluation of womens work(teaching, art, etc.) Bias against empathy
  12. 12. [O]pen source culture is not feminist.Feminism is fundamentally about equality foreveryone, not just women, and designers ofany gender are just as alienated as womenprogrammers, because it’s not an equallywelcoming environment.-Trapani
  13. 13.  Low participation diverse populations Low polish Low testing Low documentation Low engagement of users
  14. 14.  Abrasive emails Flamewars RTFM Hostile environments Microaggressions Apathetic / silent allies
  15. 15. How can we make this better?What’s missing?
  16. 16.  Warmth Mentorship Stewardship User/design focus Open discourse
  17. 17.  Encourages traditionally underrepresentedgroups to participate. Provides a healthy space for criticism of thework product (not the people). Pathway for newbies to contribute in waysthat interest them (coding, UX, PM,technical writer, etc.).
  18. 18. "Let them know youre happy theyre here,show them around the place, help them withtheir question or problem, and let them knowhow they can give back to the community.-Trapani
  19. 19.  Clear pathways for contribution Conversion of new contributors to regularcontributors Pair programming
  20. 20.  Answering questions and being accessible tonew and regular contributors. Managing resources Identifying strengths and interests
  21. 21. Architecture"Prioritize design and usability upfront,rather than accept a mess of software withplans to slap a pretty veneer on afterwards.This is been the lesson I keep having to learnand re-learn: design and usability cannot bean afterthought."-Trapani
  22. 22.  Clear communication Community-approved standards Accessible and open forums (lists, IRC,wikis)
  23. 23.  Lay out a clear path for contribution Have resources and tools for newcontributors Keep current contributors engaged Code of conduct
  24. 24.
  25. 25.  Conflict happens Communities arepeopleImage Source
  26. 26.  Contribute requested features Contribute what’s missing Engage with community on IRC/lists Answer questions Mentor new people Improve onboarding Join a core team
  27. 27. You are an expert.You have something valuable to share.
  28. 28.  Existing "rules" arent what they seem We can do better You can help us do better Rock on!
  29. 29. Pam Latislaw
  30. 30. Books
  31. 31.  Trapani, G. Designers, Women, and Hostility in OpenSource. Reagle, J. Free as in Sexist? Freeman, J. The Tyranny of Structurelessness Zhurakhinskaya, M. Opening Open Source to Women