Welcome to LinuxChix Los Angeles. LinuxChix is an international group which has been active for over nine years and is a community focused on supporting women in computing, specifically in open source/free software/software libre computing. LinuxChix encourages participation by allowing quieter voices a place to speak by holding fast to two core tenets within the LinuxChix community: “be polite” and “be helpful.” The Los Angeles chapter of LinuxChix was established in 2002.
It is no secret that a deep chasm based on gender currently exists in the computing fields. A recent article in the NYTimes entitled What Has Driven Women Out of Computer Science? noted a trend up in all technical fields, with the notable exception of computer science, which is trending down. And this is fairly recent. According to the article:
“At least we know one thing: it’s possible to have about the same number of men and women in computer science classes. That just about describes classrooms of 25 years ago.”
The visibility of women in open source communities is even more dismal. According to the 2006 Free/Libre/Open Source Software: Policy Support (FLOSS-POLS) report, a mere 2% of women are active in open source projects as compared to a 25% participation rate in proprietary software development. (The FLOSS-POLS report will be discussed in more depth with later posts.)
Why? There is no easy answer, but there can be no answers at all, easy or otherwise, if the question isn’t asked. And in asking the question, the hope is to increase both the visibility and participation of women in all aspects of open source development while at the same time exploring the strength, the knowledge, the commitment, and the diversity that women can bring to the community.
Let’s ask, let’s explore.