More Women in GNOME Now!

February 10th, 2010 in gnome, open source, women

The GNOME community is extremely diverse when it comes to nationality. But we don't have many women working on GNOME.

We want to make sure that women interested in working on GNOME know they are welcome, so we have announced the

                GNOME Outreach Program for Women!

The goal is to encourage women to participate in GNOME and to provide internship opportunities in the summer.

IStock_000002762853XSmall We noticed a problem back in 2006. We had 181 submissions for Google’s Summer of Code – and not one was from a woman. So Hanna Wallach and Chris Ball launched the Women's Summer Outreach Program. We received a 100 applications from women that summer and were able to accept 6 – six women were paid to work on GNOME and mentored by GNOME developers. (Sponsored primarily with a grant from Google.) Recently Marina Zhurakhinskaya followed up with those women and decided we should do it again and expand on the program.

So we are once again doing a GNOME Outreach Program for Women.

How can you help?

  • Encourage women to apply to the program!
  • Mentor a woman in the program.
  • Contribute financially to help pay the stipends.
  • Convince a company to sponsor the program.
  • Encourage your company to hire a female intern to work on GNOME.

Please help! Spread the word! Encourage women to join GNOME!

9 Responses to “More Women in GNOME Now!”

  1. Joe Buck says:

    Gnome could use more than coders. Surely there are some people who are inspired by Máirín Duffy’s amazing Inkscape class. Perhaps one way to get a more diverse set of contributors is to solicit a more diverse set of contributions. For example, educational material that might include some coding as well as the production of the material itself, which would then feed in to efforts to make Gnome itself better as problems are discovered.

  2. stormy says:

    Awesome point. Contributions other than code are much needed. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to add them to the list of projects, and if you can mentor on them, add your name, if you can’t leave it blank and others can fill in.
    I would personally love to see some more marketing help …
    Thanks!
    http://projects.gnome.org/outreach/women/

  3. I’m glad this is happening again. It needs to be a regular event, so we can gradually fix this problem until there are enough women to fix it simply by their visibility.
    I hadn’t read that follow-up article before. I am disturbed that 3 of the 6 didn’t even know if their work had been used. It’s not just that they don’t seem to care, suggesting that we haven’t hooked them, but the mentors should make the status very clear to them, and make sure that they understand.
    We need to do better next time – don’t let them go. Notice that they stayed in the programming field, but didn’t stay involved with GNOME, mirroring what our statistics have said about women programmers previously.
    I think we need another individual for people to contact if their mentors aren’t available enough – a person who can find someone else to help.

  4. I agree that it’s a good idea to increase the diversity of the contributors, i.e. attracting more female contributors. But I don’t think this is the right way, a program aimed exclusively at women is positive discrimination, but there is no such thing as positive discrimination, discrimination is bad. Not only for men, but also for women themselves: it reinforces a view that they are being categorized, that they need special incentives to get them interested because they are deficient. I think this is sexist to women.
    What also bothers me is that these people are paid, which is demoralizing to those like me who volunteer to work on free software. Yes, there are full-time contributors contracted by companies like Ubuntu and Red Hat, but they stick around, they deliver high quality work and they participate in the community (their blogs appear on Planet GNOME and they blog regularly). Here I read that all the women who participated in the last Women’s Summer Outreach Program left the community as soon as the money stopped flowing. Yes, the same thing happens with the Google Summer of Code, but in that case the money is paid by Google and not GNOME.
    I think a different approach should be taken. Instead of ‘positive’ discrimination, barriers to entry for women should be removed. Keep cracking down on sexist jokes made by the likes of Richard Stallman, that controversy received a lot of attention on the Planet already and it was clear that still not everyone saw the need to create a friendlier environment for women. If you do that, and assume that the share of women who will follow technical studies like Computer Science in the future, eventually more women will find their way to volunteering as a contributor to free software communities through their own motivation without any financial incentives.

  5. I forgot to mention, of course this means that I will no longer donate to the GNOME Foundation. Instead, I will donate to charities or free software projects who do not discriminate.

  6. stormy says:

    Having a second point of contact is a good idea. We also talked about making sure they were all in touch with each other on IRC or whatever so that they have a network as well.

  7. stormy says:

    While I understand how you feel, the fact is that women are going to feel out of place until we have a certain number of women. If you are the only one like you (woman/black/foreigner), you feel like you are being seen by that characteristic until your group has gotten to a certain size. We are no where near that size.

  8. stormy says:

    We are not discriminating. Discriminating would mean that we were not allowing men or women.

  9. pfctdayelise says:

    It’s reverse sexism! Oh noes! http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Reverse_sexism
    Alexander, you say “they need special incentives to get them interested because they are deficient”, I say “they appreciate being explicitly welcomed where it is not obvious that they are in fact welcome”.
    Creating a “friendlier environment for women” will take a tiny bit more than outlawing sexist jokes I’m afraid my friend. Having more women who are actually part of that environment is a great step though, Stormy. Does GNOME Foundation have fundraising drives? I will look forward to contributing to support such a forward-thinking and acting organisation.