Women in Free and Open Source Software Development

2005-08-27T16:34:00

The top Linux event in India, Linux Bangalore, has got a facelift - it's foss.in this year; and the change is not just in the name - there is a lot of work going in making the event a fitting tribute to the vibrant FOSS culture. I have been listening to the discussions on the event mailing list for the past few days - the current hot topic is why are there no women in Free Software?. It's true; there are so few women free software developers. Not just that, there are few women hackers. Strange; at least in India, there seem to be as many women involved in commercial software development as there are men - why doesn't this ratio carry over to the hacker/foss domain? Reasons:

  1. Women don't have what it takes to write *real* code, so they do ^C^V in TCS/Infy/Satyam whatever - I am sure many men would like this to be true - but sorry guys, it isn't. In terms of raw skills and talent, I have never felt that males are in any way superior; I speak from my experience as a teacher.
  2. Women are generally not excited by technology - True. After explaining something interesting in class, I often observe a `glow' on the face of a few male students (I stress *a few*) whereas the ladies simply give you a `so what?' look. Why is this? I don't know - maybe, `social conditioning'.
  3. There are no female role models for future female hackers - True; but there is nothing wrong in female hackers considering male hackers as their `Guru's' and role models. If sufficient female hackers do that, then the next generation wouldn't have to complain!
I can't really think of any good reason other than (2) above. And if that really is the reason, how do we bring about a change?

Manjunath

Thu Nov 22 04:28:46 2007

I perfectly go with you Pramode. Its good to see your responsibilitie towards education, free software movement, social concerns. Good work Thanks

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