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Why Are There So Few Women in Open Source?

· Java Zone

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I'm currently attending the SCALE 7X conference in Los Angeles. Yesterday, I chose to stick with the talks in the Women In Open Source track, and I was really amazed and impressed by many of the things I heard. First, I acknowledge you, Danese, Emma, Cathy, Sharon, Dru, Rikki and all other women in open source and in IT, for speaking up and taking a stand for what you love to do. This is a very courageous and brave thing to do, in a world that is so embarrassingly dominated by males.

Yes, I'm talking about males, just like me. These talks were a breakthrough for me, as I didn't realize how ostracized women are in the IT - and more specifically open-source - world. In all I heard, there is one key fact that shocked me: 2% of the open source contributors are women. Wow, this had the effect of a slap on me, and I rightly deserve it.

So I'm asking this: what the hell are we guys doing? The world of open source is missing a half (a half!) of its contributors, and we should just be happy with that? Should we just be resigned and say "nothing we can do about it", and avoid taking responsibility for what is happening? Where is the so vaunted freedom of open source, when only males have a real chance to thrive in it?

I am henceforth committed to making a difference in this world of un-fairness. First I acknowledge that I have been ignorant of, as well as indifferent and resigned to, this situation. This is no longer acceptable. I am making this promise: from now on, the open-source project that I founded will only recruit female members, until we have an even distribution in the team. I will also speak up about this situation, and enroll others into acting about it.

I am also requesting advice on what more I can do to make a difference. What are your thoughts, and what do you think will work?

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Published at DZone with permission of Laurent Cohen .

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