Breaking down the gender divide in open source and open culture

How the Ada Initiative aims to increase women's participation and challenge sexism in open source, open technology and open culture


According to Gardiner and Aurora there's a deficit of research about women working in open source, let alone broader open technology/open culture roles. "In terms of something that's methodology rigorous and had statisticians go over the data and so forth there's probably only one," Gardiner says.

The Ada Initiative wants to conduct research that's rigorous enough to give an accurate picture of the current status of women in open source as well as discover changes over time. "Doing methodologically rigorous research is expensive, so that's getting towards the more ambitions end because we're only a two person non profit at the moment."

The organisation will be seeking a partner for a survey. "For starters we don't have the right kind of research expertise between the two of us," Gardiner says.


The fifth project of the organisation is also its first major undertaking: Organising 'AdaCamp' conferences for women involved in open technology and open culture. Forty three people registered to attend the inaugural AdaCamp in Melbourne on 14 January. The second AdaCamp is likely to be staged on the east coast of the US, Gardiner says, and be held around about the time of the Wikimedia Foundation's Wikimania conference, which will be in Washington DC in mid-July. "We won't settle on final dates and final venue until the books are closed on the current AdaCamp."


The Ada Initiative is seeking donations to help fund its operations. Donations can be made online.

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so what do programming women think when they mix with programming men on a Linux conference? Computer-addict men are also known by a lack of knowledge for making proper compliments to women..... like me, a German living in Mongolia I feel like a unicorn in a horses heard.



if women with families have any free time from working in the craziness of the tech industry, bet it wont be doing some more code in the evening - however interesting that may be.. 20yrs + as a female engineer and I still see no advertising for permanent part-time/job share software engineers/programmers (UK). Till that changes, talk about gender diversity in this industry is just that blah.blah blah..



" not even just male dominated, but white male dominated"

Gardiner is a vile bigot. She should be sent to sensitivity training for her sexism and racism.



WTF? EVERYONE can contribute to Open Source. And if women want to invent something spectacular, that changes the world... Please. Feel free to do so. I'm waiting for Mamapedia, Femux or grrloogle...

Jacobus Erasmus


I think most of the comments miss the point.

The problem is that the environment in the open source community is such the Woman feel uncomfortable. I am very ashamed of the situation and so should the whole community.

This is one situation we cannot pull out the Rightous card we are simply wrong.



The fallacy of the reasoning that the cause of the lack of participation of women is that they are "uncomfortable". If you don't want to participate because you got other things on your mind, but there is no reason why you shouldn't you do the human thing, that is: find excuses. For some reason there is a lack of female subscribers to "Dr. Dobbs" - probably because the editors make women uncomfortable. Maybe because they are laughed at at the newsstands. Most programming forums are filled up to capacity with sexist jokes. And consequently, women who have bad experiences and have a passion for programming advertise themselves over and over again as a single women, simply because they want dinner dates with nerds with broken-and-taped glasses. C'mon. There is nothing to prevent women to start their own projects - you don't have to join an existing one. Still, although every single sect has its own distribution, there is not a single one targeted to women, made by women. In fact, the only ones that can change the current situation are women themselves. Go ahead, what's keeping you? Or too busy whining like a spoiled kid?

the goat


When communicating via e-mail, IRC, webforums, etc. how would anybody know the gender of the other participants? There is no barrier preventing women from participating in opensource projects. In fact opensource has absolutely nothing to do with gender.



Gender, gender, gender is all I hear these white women talking about, but I never see them talking about *RACE*. There are far fewer blacks, including black men, in Free Software than there are women of any race. And non-white women don't seem to get hardly any attention from these feminists. What's up, white women? Don't care about anybody not just like you?

Yes, I am a BLACK WOMAN. Start focusing on the lack of racial minorities as much as you do the folks who look like you, and then I might consider supporting you. To date, you have not done this.



Love the project, the more that the open source community can reach out to underrepresented groups, the better. With that in mind, I also agree with Yolanda, that any attempt to do this would be better served by including race in addition to gender in your outreach. But this is a step :)



Open source is about the software. Not the gender...Damn feminism sticks its nose into everything! And its always WHITE women with nothing better to do. They won't be happy until society itself is in chaos from political correctness...Then, they'll come up with another excuse blaming males for something they did.

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