Group: Women's Caucus/Resources/Getting started

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This is a synthesis of many conversations on the topic of increasing women's participation in free software. Special thanks to everyone who participated in 2009 Summit and the 2010 Caucus for your input!

Barriers to women's participation

  • The perception of the free software movement as a "boys' club"
  • Shortage of female role models within the free software community
  • The perception that it is not OK to make mistakes
  • Non-coding roles (often filled by women) are undervalued in many parts of the free software movement
  • Women in free software often feel isolated or "other"
  • Finances are more likely to be an obstacle for women than for men
  • Sexist behavior online or in person
  • Girls are not being exposed to free software

Some things we recommend

  • Highlight women who are already participating
  • Women within projects acting as recruiters
  • Mentoring programs for new contributors, debuggers, documenters, etc.
  • Emphasizing cooperation over competition
  • Recognition for early contributions from new folks, including non-code contributions
  • Encouraging women-only mailing lists within projects
  • Make space for women-only networking events
  • Paid internships for women
  • Diversity statements are very effective at communicating who is welcome and what kinds of behavior will be acceptable
  • Programs to bring free software specifically to girls

Go back to the resources page for some of our more detailed recommendations.