le_bebna_kamni: (Posh)
Matt Arnold and I were recently discussing the low numbers of women in the Python, Rails, and Linux communities, an issue that I've been puzzling over for quite some time. I go to a lot of Python conferences in particular, and I've noticed that the ratio of women to men is approximately 1 woman to every 40-50 guys -- and at least a handful of those women are non-tech girlfriends or wives, as opposed to women who are there for the conference itself.

Now it's true that women are overwhelmingly underrepresented in tech fields in general. But open source technical convention turnouts are incredibly dismal even for the computing world. Women only comprise about 1.5% of OSS developers, whereas they make up one fifth to one quarter of the proprietary work force. From a personal standpoint, I see far more women when I've gone to Microsoft events, or even when I've done volunteer programming sprints with Java/C#/etc., much closer to the ratios I see in the real world.

Even when I've gone to "women in computing" type conferences where 99% of the attendees are female, almost everyone I meet uses Windows, Sun Java, Visual Basic, C++ and C#.

So I'm going to attempt to synthesize a few of the articles I've read, discussions I've had, as well as personal experiences, into an answer to the question: Why are there so few women in open source relative to the rest of the computer programming world?

A Brief Survey of Potential Answers )

To Be Continued...

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