Linux kernel developer Valerie Aurora and open source advocate and developer Mary Gardiner are behind the non-profit The Ada Initiative, named for Countess Ada Lovelace, who is acknowledged as both the world's first programmer and open source programmer.
The first sponsor of the organisation is Linux Australia; Aurora and Gardiner have invited expressions of interest from other partner organisations and sponsors.
A media release on the occasion of the launch of the initiative said there was a lack of women participants in open technology and culture, including open source software, open content, and related communities.
The only available figures for the participation level of women in these fields come from Europe in 2006 and show that less than two percent pf the participants are women. There are no figures for the participation of women in FOSS in the US.
"The Ada Initiative will concentrate on focused, direct action programmes, including recruitment and training for women, education for community members, and working with companies and projects to improve their outreach to women," the media release said.
It added that the sponsorship funds would allow the retention of expert staff to focus on major projects beyond the capacity of a purely volunteer organisation.
Among the free services that the organisation will offer are the development of guidelines and policies to encourage women's attendance at conferences, recruitment of women to companies, and participation of women in community projects.
It will also organise workshops to train community members and employees on practical skills for encouraging women and provide PR advice for developing and maintaining a women-friendly reputation.