Women are joining the world of Free- and Open Source Software

Women are making there way into the information age and joining
the world of Free- and Open Source Software

More women in Free (and all kinds of) software will lead to
democracy, more humanism and diversity in society.

March 8th each year is an important date for making status of the
land winnings of the past and make an action plan for the future.

In 2005 a group of women decided to hold a BOF, Birds Of A Feather,
making a presentation on how to get more women interested in joining
the Free Software Community at FLOS software events all over the world.

During EuroOSCON, the Libre Software Meeting and now at FOSDEM, an
early and cold Sunday morning in February the room was stuffed with men
and women. The youngest girl was 1� years old already at FOSDEM - trying
to make her voice heard.

Hannah Wallach from the Debian Women Project explained about the
study that the EU Commission is having made by independent
university researchers.

The independent report will be published in 1-2 months time and is
going to show that the percentage of women in Free - and Open Source
Software is as modest as about 1.5 %.

I hope that the report initiated by the European Commission will
give some statistics from other sectors for comparison.

In many other fields the situation is as imbalanced as it is the case
in the software business. Research, music and sports to mention a few
areas - religion not mentioned because no kind of software is a

The good news is that we are taken action ourselves. The community is
going to identify the reasons why we have this situation. We in the
community have got the challenge to point to ways and means of changing
this imbalance. It is also very clear to me that we want to do so
because we do not want to miss a potential of more than 50% of all the
ideas in our innovation projects!

I have heard that in Malaysia the women are in majority in the
ICT sector and that the government is worried and planning a program to
get more men involved.

This shows us that it is circumstances in society that influence
our choices and not something that has to do with gender chromosomes.

At the moment ICT decisions are made all over the globe and on
all levels both in governments and by businesses- most often without
females represented in the decision making bodies!

It is therefore important that we make up a list by country of women
and men that are qualified to represent our case on public and
private boards and experts committees.

In Norway there has to be at least 40% women represented in the
local government and the municipalities. Denmark has a similar proposal
on its way.

I am sure that we do not want a virtual universe where the girls
are groupies and just sit there. Most men in the original hacker
culture have been living in an all male subculture for a long period of
time. Software is no longer a subculture, it is about communication and
big business on a global scale. ICT is changing our ways of living, and
rapidly too.

Many men have discovered that it is actually very nice to come out in
the daylight once in a while, and meet other people that are not a
mirror of themselves. The cultural habits of the super nerds can not
be changed over night, and not if they are not willing to let others in.

The hacker culture does not exclude women, but we have to step lightly
and be careful. If we want to join the community a large amount of
patience, skills and humor will be a good ballast.

The reward is that one can make many new friends - and the by product
is that one learns a lot. Enough to find out that there are in fact no
limits to what one can learn- your own capacity sets the pace.

Happy hacking


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