[gnome-women] IRC meeting minutes and updates

Hi all!

Below are the minutes from the #gnome-women IRC meeting about the women outreach program that was held on October 1. But first, here are the latest updates about the program:

1) The donations page for the program is up featuring an awesome graphic for the banner from Máirín!
We are in the process of setting up a dedicated donations account, but the page links to http://www.gnome.org/friends for now.

2) I ran a session about Women Outreach / Marketing at the GNOME Summit in Boston last weekend. Here is a write-up about the session from Jason Clinton who blogged about most of the sessions at the summit!

3) Please sign up here if you are interested in mentoring students as part of the outreach program. It is important that we have the mentors who are committed to the program early on and can start putting together the resources for the program.

4) Stormy is putting together a November issue of the GNOME Journal with articles by women contributors. Please let her know ASAP if you would like to write an article for it. The articles are due on November 1st and should be 1000-1750 words.


Minutes from the IRC meeting in #gnome-women on October 1, 2009.

cjb - Chris Ball, co-organizer of GNOME Women Summer Outreach Program in 2006

hanna - Hanna Wallach,  co-organizer of GNOME Women Summer Outreach Program in 2006

marina - Marina Zhurakhinskaya, GNOME Shell developer, working for Red Hat, planning a new outreach program for women in GNOME, generally interested in increasing women participation and creating good resources for all newbies

mizmo - Máirín Duffy, an interaction designer who works on UI design, web app design, icons, artwork, mostly for Fedora and Red Hat products

stormy - Stormy Peters, an Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation and very interested in encouraging women to participate in free software and in particular GNOME. Participating from a session at the Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference

* what was learned from running the program in 2006
* format for this years program
* search for mentors
* fundraising for this years program
* any ideas you have about the program or about increasing participation of women in GNOME

Hanna's impressions from running the program in 2006 (from a sequence of IRC messages):

* When Chris and I first said we were going to run the program there was a lot of discussion in #gnome-hackers. A lot of people saying that given that gnome had had 181 applications for summer of code and 0 were women would we really be able to find any women for WSOP. There was a lot of discussion about this and people were fairly sceptical.

* We put a HUGE amount of time and energy into publicising the program, emailing mailing lists, people I knew at universities, anyone I thought would be interested. Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier wrote an article on it. I think what made the biggest difference re. publicity were the personal emails. Emailing people individually and saying "do you have students who'd be interested" etc. Sending individual emails (rather than just things to mailing lists or to large numbers of people) made a huge difference. People were more likely to respond and then more likely to actually tell their students about the program.
 <stormy> can help get press for this; Rikki Kite, Carla Schroeder, Tina Gasperson and others all interested in promoting women in oss

* The other thing that made a big difference was the tone in which we described the program. Basically summer of code is advertised in a very "are you the best? prove you're the best!" kind of way and we felt that was offputting. Even though I'm a pretty decent coder, *I* wouldn't feel comfortable applying for GSoC. So we advertised it with the tone of "are you interested in getting involved in GNOME development? Would you like to work with a mentor for 2 months?" etc. and that seemed to make a BIG difference. Women would contact us saying "oh I don't know if I'm qualified enough but working with a mentor sounds good etc etc etc and then have REALLY impressive CVs -- clearly they'd've been accepted to GSoC if they'd applied, but they were clearly not confident enough to do so.

* Here is a poster for the program in 2006: http://www.flickr.com/photos/behdad/167266546 which was awesome. Having the poster was also really really really helpful because we asked people all over the place to put it up in CS departments.

* In the end something like 200 women contacted us about the program and 96 actually applied. This was for THREE positions, but after getting 96 applicants (most of whom were incredibly talented) we asked Google to sponsor another 3, which they did.

* We asked for people to volunteer to be mentors and people offered. We had some mentors who proposed projects and some students applied to do those. I think (but I could be wrong) some students proposed their own projects, with the idea being that we'd find them a suitable mentor. Basically mentor selection all happened via #gnome-hackers. Chris mentored at least one of the projects.
 <cjb> We did have a bit of trouble finding mentors; the reason I mentored two (I think?) of the women was that the original volunteers for mentoring turned out to not have enough time to do it properly. So I think something to do better at next time is to get really solid commitments from mentors before accepting a project, and perhaps also to insist on multiple mentors per student.

* We encouraged them all to start blogs and created Planet WSOP so they could all see each other's blog posts easily. They were on Planet GNOME during that summer too. I don't think there was much activity on gnome-women -- certainly more use should be made of the list and the IRC channel this time. Some people joined #gnome-hackers
 <stormy> this year we could add them to Planet with a special logo like we did GSoC students

Chris found current e-mails for the 2006 program participants and I'm going to create an e-mail with questions for them. Stormy is planning an all-women GNOME Journal issue in November and we can try to make an article with their responses. We can co-author it with Hanna and include stuff about "lessons learned from WSOP 2006".

Would be happy to do logos and marketing materials and such again. Maybe i can start a bit early so some of the gfx could be used for the GNOME Journal.

We need to raise funds for the stipends for this year's participants, so working on the fundraising page and asked Máirín to do a logo for the header.
Update: The page and the logo are already done! http://projects.gnome.org/outreach/women
                The dedicated fundraising account is still being set up, so it just forwards to http://www.gnome.org/friends for making a donation for now.

The name should be Women Outreach Program, so that it reflects the fact that it is an ongoing effort, not just something we do in the summer. We could incorporate GNOME into the name somehow, but adjacency of "GNOME" and "Women" is odd because it spawns jokes about the women being gnomes from some people. I think we can just use "Women Outreach Program" because it is usually already found in the context of it being a program within GNOME. We can use "Women Outreach Program run by GNOME" or "GNOME created a Women Outreach Program", etc. when introducing the program. WSOP also did not have GNOME as part of its official name. It should be ok to abbreviate the program name as WOP, GNOME WOP or GWOP.

Ideas for the name were:
"Women Outreach Program"
"GNOME Women Outreach Program"
"GNOME Women's Outreach Program"
"GNOME Outreach Program for Women"
"Women in GNOME Outreach Program"

"Women in GNOME" is the name of the Facebook group

Chris (re: finding mentors and making sure projects are successful):
I don't think any of this was different to normal SoC problems; it's certainly not the case that 100% of SoC projects are successful (perhaps more like 50% or 70%). But when you have a smaller sample, each project's going to be more visible. So that's a danger, I guess -- you need to make sure people don't turn "this student's project didn't work well" into "the whole project was a bad idea", which they wouldn't do with SoC as a whole but may be more willing to do for us.

 <marina> Definitely similar to the general GSoC problems. I've been talking to people in my team and mentoring newbies is definitely one of the challenges due to lack of time. Basically, we need very self-directed participants, but also we need to create good resources and have mentors who are really committed to this particular program. Also, originally it was suggested that a couple participants can be working on GNOME Shell. So some of the resources created can be used by multiple people and I can ask people in my team to be mentors. But it'd be definitely great if we can have various projects represented and various directions, such as design work. GNOME Shell can use a designer student too though. I think the stakes are higher than with the GSoC mentoring because we'll still have relatively few participants and we can't allow anyone's individual experience be anything less than success due to a busy mentor. While with GSoC I don't think a typical mentor feels that it's the end of the world if what the student did does not end up incorporated (while passing the student).
    <cjb> I don't know if there are statistics on what % of "successful GSoC projects" are, with code that gets merged and maintained afterwards. I think I would guess maybe 30%? But it's worrying when you apply that to our smaller sample size, even though no-one really cares when you have 20 or more slots, because there'll still be some really successful projects. While the women students are plenty smart, I think it's natural that they'll need more mentoring than the normal GSoC ones, because they aren't experienced with GNOME/Gtk2 yet.  (If they were, we wouldn't need to run the program :) So, I agree that we're asking something pretty significant from the mentors, and that maybe it's even more than the already onerous GSoc mentor load. Perhaps that's an argument for not running it entirely alongside GSoC. Since if we do, the best mentors will already have their hands full with GSoC students. I don't know what your plans were for when to run the program.
      <hanna> cjb: that's true  -- however I worry about running it at some other time of year because students have other committments pretty much all year except summer
      <cjb> hanna: Australian students don't :) (it feels really harsh that Google SoC is always convenient for northern hemisphere students and ignores southern hemisphere ones.)
      <marina> we can make sure we get the best and most committed mentors by recruiting them early :)

 <stormy> We can also build a network of support around the program. This IRC channel, the mailing list, all of us. So if there is any trouble with a mentor (like not having enough time), the women have somewhere to go. And if we are talking to them regularly, we'll catch it early enough.

It would be good to build up a contact list of cs dept contacts too for other years if we do it again. The teachingopensource.org folks might be a good place to find recruits too.
 <hanna> I agree -- and people too personally email too. I wonder if we can create a (non-public) wiki for storing this information in? I say non-public because I don't feel comfortable putting random people's names on the web.
 <stormy> We could ask the whole GNOME community to help. If everyone approached their alma matter, we'd reach a lot of universities.

Also my idea for the program format was to have workshops/bootcamps by the projects who want to participate BEFORE the application process. That way the students will be more prepared and we'll have actual patches from the students beforehand as a selection criteria. I'm sure it's true that most successful GSoCs are with people who were already contributing extensive patches to the projects during the school year and then got accepted into the program (certainly was true for the GNOME Shell students this summer). So having an Outreach Program not just be about the summer, but about getting women contributors in preparation for the summer program would be best
 <hanna> oh! we could have some online (IRC) drop-by meetings for people who are potentially interested
 <mizmo> screencast demos of the projects they'd be working on might be nice. GNOME Shell might not mean anything to someone new to GNOME, but if they see eye candy then it can spark their imagination.
 <stormy> marina, I didn't follow that. Is the summer program the women's internships? I think we could still call it a summer outreach program and obviously we'd have lots of work before hand to get there.
   <marina> stormy: yes, but we want to have events before the selection process to get the women to learn about the projects and contribute. That way it's not just a summer program, but an overarching women outreach effort and we'll also have more information for the selection process. We'd need to think how to name the program and phrase the announcements, so that it's not just about applying, but rather about getting involved.
     <stormy> cool (on it being an ongoing program)

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]