While female developers make up about 25% of the total developer population, only 2% of open source developers are women. The open source community and culture has historically been almost entirely male, but a few vocal people within the open source community are trying to get more women involved. Danese Cooper is one of the leading evangelists for women in open source. This is becoming a hot topic at conferences with recent sessions at OSCON, EuroOscon, ApacheCon, and others.
During the time that the community of women in open source have begun to pull together to help support other women involved in open source, the men have begun to get involved as well. Danese referred to this blog from Piers Cawley with an entry in her blog titled ‘Men Who “Get” Women’.
The real question that we need to ask is, “why are there so few women in open source?” followed by, “And what should we do about it?” Is the open source culture really so different from other software communities? Maybe, maybe not. The open source culture is built on a system of meritocracy where any person can become successful based on the merits of the contribution rather than who they are or who they know. Theoretically, women should be on equal footing, but for some reason, women seem to choose not to join open source communities. It will be fascinating to see what kind of success will result from these efforts to get more women involved in open source software.
To get involved, you can join the women in open source mailing list (instructions here).