The Open World Forum is an annual event held in Paris in the fall and bringing together actors from the Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) world. This year, a special satellite session will be dedicated to women’s participation in communities and business activities in relationship with FLOSS. Panel discussions and workshops will be organized and many questions will be addressed. To assess women’s participation, a questionnaire has been prepared: I invite you to fill it in order to provide more depth in the vision of the subject.
The heterogeneity and the nature of FLOSS communities and business make it very difficult to establish what proportion of contributions comes from women participants. However, attempts to measure this participation have been conducted (e.g., this study of the European Commission) and suggest that the proportion of female contributors is very low (around 2-4%). In addition, some other numbers are known:
- In April, the leading not-for-profit organization for the promotion and protection of Free Software in the French-speaking world, 5.6% of the members are women;
- An estimate from an Ubuntu contributor, Alan Bell, reported 4.4% of women among Ubuntu members;
- A very recent update of Debian contributors shows a steady increase of women participating in the project.
Organizations monitoring the proportions of students in various areas reported about 28% of women in computer science in France. Moreover, it was reported that the proportion of women in companies developping proprietary software is about 23%. So why such a low turnout in FLOSS communities?
Several initiatives towards women have emerged in various communities: Debian-Women, Ubuntu-Women, to name only the most active. However, little is done to track participation at the companies level. Therefore, at this year’s Open World Forum in Paris, a satellite session will be held which aims to work ing with communities as well as companies. The main theme discussed with various male and female speakers is: what position do women occupy in the FLOSS world? To assess the participation of women in FLOSS activities, either volunteers or employees, a questionnaire was designed. As a member of the FLOSS world, your opinion is vital for us. That is why I invite you to answer to this questionnaire.
The results will be analyzed by researchers at the Laboratory of Educational Sciences at the University Paris Descartes and discussed at the Open World Forum on September 30, 2010.
If you have any questions you would like to adress during one of the round-table sessions, don’t hesitate to do it in a comment to this post.
Some usefuls links:
- Open World Forum
- Open World Forum – Think Tank: Why women matter
- Slides for Ubuntu Party talk “De la diversité dans le libre” and presentation of the talk at ubuntu-party.org (FR)