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Tuesday, 25 August 2009 06:19

Mini-summit on women in free software

The Free Software Foundation will host a mini-summit on September 19 on the participation of women in free software, to discuss means whereby involvement can be increased.

A small group of women activists, thinkers and scholars will join the FSF's Deborah Nicholson, the GNOME Foundation's Robin "Stormy" Peters, and free software activist Hillary Rettig to talk about the issues involved.

A substantial amount of discussion about sexism in the FOSS space was kicked off recently following a keynote given by FSF founder Richard Stallman at the annual conference of the GNOME Foundation.

Some of Stallman's comments were interpreted as sexist by self-styled defenders of women's rights who then launched savage attacks on him.

The FSF's move to host the mini-summit appears to be a reaction to this.

A presentation on women in open source projects by Perl consultant Kirrily Robert at last month's OSCON also resulted in plenty of talk about the lack of women in FOSS projects.

The last time a survey was done, in the EU in 2006, it was found that less than 2 percent of the participants were women.

No figures exist of the number of women in FOSS in the US.

In the FSF media release , Nicholson said, "At the summit, we will discuss existing entry points, why women don't always feel invited, and when they do, why they don't always stay.

"Individual projects have found ways to make women welcome and we will look at some of these examples and discuss how to build on those successes. We will also identify new strategies and tactics to help create a balanced community."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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