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Getting More Women Coders Into Open Source 696

Nerval's Lobster writes: Diversity remains an issue in tech firms across the nation, with executives and project managers publicly upset over a lack of women in engineering and programming roles. While all that's happening on the corporate side, a handful of people and groups are trying to get more women involved in the open source community, like Women of OpenStack, Outreachy (which is geared toward people from underrepresented groups in free software), and others. How much effort should be expended to facilitate diversity among programmers? Can anything be done to shift the demographics, considering the issues that even large, coordinated companies have with altering the collective mix of their employees?
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Getting More Women Coders Into Open Source

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  • by Balial ( 39889 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:47PM (#50674771) Homepage

    Fill all the forums with macho bravado. I hear that works every time.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:01PM (#50674899)

      How about we invite people into the open source community based on merit rather than based on the unholy offspring of SJW fantasies and affirmative action??

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by preaction ( 1526109 )

        Who judges merit? How do they judge it? Is it a fair judgement? How do we know? What about all the biases that everyone has?

        • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:35PM (#50675107)

          Who judges merit?

          The users.

          How do they judge it?

          By using, or not using, code.

          Is it a fair judgement?

          It is the only judgement that matters, whether it is "fair" or not.

          What about all the biases that everyone has?

          No one gives a crap about the gender of the person that wrote the code. When I submit a patch to an open source project, no one asks me about my gender. It is irrelevant, and often unknown.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            "Who judges merit?
            The users."

            Wrong. We are talking here about open source. It is not users the ones that have access to a repo or apply the patch. Merit is judged by peers in control positions.

            "How do they judge it?
            By using, or not using, code."

            Wrong again. Peer programers in control positions judge the code they recieve by two main criteria:
            1) They understand the code solves interesting problems
            2) Code provided doesn't put those peer programers in control positions into undesired troubles.

            "Is it a fair

      • by Eythian ( 552130 )

        How about we not push people away who might have a lot of merit?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I agree, it's 2015 and mailing lists are often still too triggering. Take for instance the mailing list for a large open-source project, Wayland. Just recently someone dared to post this:

      Weston does not allow popup menus initiated by keyboard. Remove the broken keyboard shorcut for a popup from the stacking demo.

      Obviously 'popup menus' is slang for 'lynching blacks'; and what to think of 'broken keyboard shorcut'? I think you mean 'differently abled keyboard-identifying human interface device control key combinatory' you shitlord! I just can't even right now. This is outright cyber violence.

      And let me tell you that was one of the L

  • stop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:48PM (#50674783) Homepage
    just stop
    • Re:stop (Score:4, Insightful)

      by dpidcoe ( 2606549 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:55PM (#50674857)

      just stop

      Exactly. Making an issue of gender is hurting their objective more than helping it.

      Most people who get into computers and programming are naturally introverted. Making a big deal about a specific category of person getting involved in a specific field is a great way to keep the shy introverted people of that category out of that field.

      • No, just no. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @08:35PM (#50675563)

        Most people who get into computers and programming are naturally introverted.

        This is a stereotype, and not really true.

        On the other hand, it's important to understand that men and woman at NOT the same, and they may have different ideas about what they want to do in life.

        The idea that in every field, we must have 50/50 is simply stupid.

        • Re:No, just no. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @08:44PM (#50675631)

          Not every field, only the ones with highest salaries

        • Re:No, just no. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by schnell ( 163007 ) <meNO@SPAMschnell.net> on Wednesday October 07, 2015 @01:44AM (#50676947) Homepage

          The idea that in every field, we must have 50/50 is simply stupid.

          I completely agree with you on this. As a worker in the technology field, I believe this is an area that naturally suits a meritocracy (confession: this is also why I am not a big union supporter specifically in tech). With that being said, I think Slashdotters should consider that there are some potential upsides to "getting women into tech/coding" efforts:

          1.) I believe that people have natural affinities to certain fields of endeavor. It's possible (probable?) that more women than men don't find tech attractive. However, it is undeniably true that there may be some females who would otherwise like tech but are discouraged by a culture that feels like it is discriminating against them. To throw out a counter-example: I see a disproportionate(?) number of Slashdot posters who express no interest in sports. (I am a huge nerd and huge NFL fan, BTW.) What percentage of those Slashdotters might otherwise have found that they really like (football, baseball, hockey, whatever) but were turned off by a middle/high school culture where the football players were dicks and picked on nerds? Had they had a different environment in which to acclimate themselves to the topic, would they have found something that they really enjoyed and are missing out on because of how they were introduced to it? I was introduced to sushi in the mid-90s by a group of rich douchebag semi-friends (I used to spend on food in a whole day what they spent on a single sashimi order) who insisted I throw a glob of wasabi on top of everything, and I hated it. It took me more than a decade to figure out it was something I really liked just because of the social context in which I first experienced it, and when I tried it "on my own terms" I found out I loved it.

          2.) Racists are generally people who have never spent serious personal time with a large group (not just a few) of people they discriminate against. Most of their opinions are formed by inherited bias or media. Similarly, MOST (not all) misogynists are generally men who have had very limited SERIOUS interpersonal experience with women outside their family. (I want to note for the record that my 17-year-old, turned-down-by-every-girl-I-asked-out self would certainly have qualified as a misogynist; just like at that age I thought "fags" were perverts because I didn't actually "know" any, even though I knew several who were my friends but I didn't know they were gay). Just like I think the "cure" for racism is to actually get to know a LOT of people of other races (not just a few and in limited contexts), I think the "cure" for misogyny is to get to really know a LOT of women, as friends, bosses, subordinates, co-workers, whatever. It may not relieve your frustration with dating, but it will certainly change your opinion of "what women want/are." And having more women VOLUNTARILY in tech cannot possibly help but make that situation better.

          TL/DR: it makes no sense to force women into tech or require a certain percentage of workers be women (or other minorities). But efforts that encourage females (but don't mandate them) to enter tech should be encouraged by every male tech worker.

      • by RoLi ( 141856 )

        Exactly. Making an issue of gender is hurting their objective more than helping it.

        Their objective is to create jobs for SJWs.

        Diversity consultant, gender consultant, etc.

        The only problem they have is that there is not much money to be had at open source projects.

  • id much rather (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:49PM (#50674803) Homepage
    Id much rather that the executives worry about their product, and not work quota. While they worry about how to get X into Y, they are not using that time to better their product or their service.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:51PM (#50674829)

    I really wish my company had more female coders, because I'd like to see if they would provide a different perspective. As it is, we only have one, and she is good, but does not work in our sustainment group (instead she works on capital projects only).

    Maybe coding is just something that attracts more men than women. I know it's always been that way for me. I've known very few women who take coding up as a profession, and those I have known were always very good (or at least, I've known men who were way worse).

    However, it's entirely likely that men and women simply gravitate to different professions. We are not the same, to assume we are is to deny our differences.

    We shouldn't mandate a 50/50 split, but we should ensure that there are no barriers to anyone wishing to pursue this profession. Once any barriers are removed (and I'm not sure there are any now), then we would see what the true diversity in backgrounds for coders would be.

    • I'm the only one at my work in my area where there's about 20 developers total. We have plenty of women in our IT department, but not writing code. We have very few coders in general though maybe, 80 out of the 500 if you include the COTS system developers as well. I wouldn't want them to bring in more women just to sure up the numbers, if they were crap or didn't really want to be doing it. I also don't think having more women in coding brings in diverse perspectives, which is the entire point of trying
    • I really wish my company had more female coders, because I'd like to see if they would provide a different perspective.

      I work in a company with female coders. They do provide a different perspective -- because they're individuals, not because they're female.

      We shouldn't mandate a 50/50 split, but we should ensure that there are no barriers to anyone wishing to pursue this profession.

      This in spades. And one of the barriers we need to remove is the one created by the minority of boorish, petulant, insulting participants who think they're cool and powerful when they act that way.

      • This in spades. And one of the barriers we need to remove is the one created by the minority of boorish, petulant, insulting participants who think they're cool and powerful when they act that way.

        3 boors -- Linus Torvalds, Steve Jobs, and Richard M. Stallman -- created more in this field than any number of make-nice people ever has. So I doubt removing boors will be a net positive.

        I will grant that just being a boor doesn't mean you'll make a great contribution; there's always Ballmer as a counterexample.

  • Can anything be done to shift the demographics [of open-source projects], considering the issues that even large, coordinated companies have with altering the collective mix of their employees?

    Since a large portion of OSS contributors these days, especially to the bigger projects, are employees paid to contribute, the questions of demographics of the tech industry, and demographics of OSS projects, are pretty intertwined. When you have so many gcc, LLVM, Linux, etc. developers employed by the likes of Red H

  • Not another one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nashv ( 1479253 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @06:57PM (#50674873) Homepage

    You know how more women can be involved into open-source ? When there are more women coding open source. That's it. This is not a f**cking social issue.

    If diversity improves the quality of code, then let every open source project or company decide that it is suffering from al lthose nasty bugs and lack of vision because there isn't enough estrogen in the mailing list. It isn't my problem. It isn't society's problem. It's not like women are banned from computer science and coding. And frankly, nobody how cares many women are coding, good for those who are, and good for those who aren't. It's coding...not suffrage or human rights or anything of fundamental importance to society. It's like cribbing about how all the cobblers in my town are men , no women. Well, boo fucking hoo.

  • by jd.schmidt ( 919212 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:00PM (#50674887)
    Do open source coders meet in person much? I am not hip to that scene, but I thought it was mostly done online.
  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jez9999 ( 618189 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:01PM (#50674893) Homepage Journal

    Is there a vagina-to-good-code ratio? Please cite the evidence for this.

    • by narcc ( 412956 )

      There is a strong correlation between shit code and developers with dicks. It's pretty strong, but Is it causal?

      Perhaps in the case of the perl one-liner -- which is essentially dick-waving...

  • by Rinikusu ( 28164 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:03PM (#50674905)

    One of the things that draws me to Open Source is that the barriers to entry are absolutely fucking zero. You want to build an Open Source app? Do it. Release it. If people want to use it and contribute to it, they will. If not, they won't (see the billions of abandoned/disused apps on sourceforge, github, etc). Run it however the fuck you want.

    However, this really smacks of "Oh, but doesn't feel welcome in the community!" that's been going around lately. So the fuck what? DO IT YOURSELF. Don't wait for my approval. Don't wait to look around to see if anyone cares. If you want to do it, DO IT. You don't like how some maintainer is maintaining a project? FORK IT and make SOMETHING BETTER. Show them how YOU would do it. Just SHUT THE FUCK UP AND START DOING instead of WHINING.

  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:04PM (#50674909)

    Obviously, all women that want to be coders and have the aptitude to be good ones have a more than good shot at becoming coders. That is what matters. As most women do not want to be coders (just like most men, incidentally, the tiny reminder is just larger for men), "getting more women into coding" sound like trying to trick or coerce people into doing things they do not want and what they have no reasonable aptitude for. That never has a good outcome.

    • Obviously, all women that want to be coders ...have a more than good shot at becoming coders. That is what matters. ... "getting more women into coding" sound like trying to trick or coerce people into doing things they do not want

      You make it sound like people's preferences are fully formed when they emerge from the womb. They aren't. Society, and subgroups within, try to mold preferences for all kinds of reasons..

      • by tom229 ( 1640685 )
        So women don't get into coding because of societal pressures? I, quite frankly, find that insulting. Women are not meek little creatures that need you and your SJWs to circle jerk over their cause. They are human beings capable of extraordinary things when you get out of their way, and let them take care of themselves. Just like all other human beings.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        And you think targeted manipulation is somehow acceptable?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Kellamity ( 4286097 )
        'Society' never encouraged me to code. My entire high school class learned QBASIC in Info Tech class. Pretty much everyone hated it, I found it fascinating. I always wanted to know how things worked, I got my Dad to explain to me how the TV made pictures, how sounds went down the phone, how a microwave made things warm..I was born like this. There are the kinds of people that want to buy things, and there are the kinds of people who wants to understand what things are made of, and how to make them themselv
  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:07PM (#50674927) Homepage Journal

    Let anyone with the aptitude and the desire to code do so. Enough of this forced "equality" for something that will never appeal to everybody.

    What's next? Forcing equality on nursing? Medicine? Firefighters? Garbage collectors?

    Face it: "equality" is a mealy-mouthed politically correct term. The term people should be using is equivalency -- as in people with different skills are getting paid equivalent salaries in different professions.

  • Better things to do (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Open source projects require a lot of your own time, and women often still take on a bit more of the work caring for the house and kids when they are not at work (usually because they want to).

    I've recently applied to join one for the first time. I want to do a bit more at home to boost my resume and skills, and I thought that might be a good way to do it. The reason I never have before is that while I don't have kids or a partner or anything, I have a lot of other interests and coming home from work afte

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:14PM (#50674969)

    Hey girls! Do you want to do programming work for zero compensation? Do you want to spend your free time doing labor? Then OPEN SOURCE is the place to be! Join us today!

    • Do you want a job doing development work? Github is your new resume! Do free work to gain the possibility of doing paid work!

  • we exist (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:28PM (#50675045)

    I've been doing an open source project for about 4 years now (I have been working as a programmer since 1998 - I have a Comp Sci degree, too). Considering some of the places I've found my project in use (Middle Eastern locales) I'm almost certain they don't realize it's a one woman show project. I think we don't get tagged as female devs on our projects unless we cover our stuff with pink ribbons and flowers.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat. c o m> on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:29PM (#50675047) Journal

    ... worrying about whether or not a particular race or gender are underrepresented somewhere, and just fucking treat every human being you encounter with dignity and respect in whatever career path they may have chosen.

    If things like gender are to genuinely supposed to not influence our reactions in the workplace, then we need to stop fucking focusing on them and accept people, men and women, for who they are, or whatever interests they happen to have that may, or may not, happen to direct them into a particular industry.

    • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @09:27PM (#50675895) Journal

      Except that doesn't happen.

      Just as men interested in nursing face obstacles that women in nursing don't face, so women interested in computers face obstacles that men don't face. In both cases, it's a result of societal pressure.

      If you want your ideal to be realized, you need to make people aware of the issues. It's the first step toward effecting social change. Ignoring or denying the problem does nothing but perpetuate the status quo.

      The more interesting question is why no one seems to have a problem encouraging more men to go in to nursing, but so many people seems to think encouraging more women to enter tech is going to destroy the world...

  • Are we really pondering the question of how to convince more women to code for free? Why? What barriers are there to their participation?

    On the Internet, no one knows you're a dog - just pick a cool l33t name for yourself and start contributing, and when anyone finds out you are (or identify) as a girl, you will become real popular REAL FAST.

  • Diversity remains an issue in tech firms across the nation, with executives and project managers publicly upset over a lack of women in engineering and programming roles.

    Yeah...uh, some executives may have expressed dismay over the lack of women in E & P roles, but if a "project manager" expressed anything on the matter publicly, s/he would be looking for new employment lickety split. Expressing an opinion in the public square just isn't a part of the job description of a "project manager" (at least in the corporate world).

    In any event, I'm not seeing anyone *upset* about this issue. Call me when there's a protest or picket or sumpthin.

  • How much effort should be expended to facilitate diversity among programmers?

    That's easy.
    Let people who want to give encouragement give as much encouragement as they want.
    Let people who don't want to expend effort not expend effort.
    Problem solved.

  • I recently realized (I'm ashamed it took me this long) that this line of thought is self defeating. Social justice demands equality in numbers. The benefit, they tell us, is diversity in thought. That a more diverse workplace results in a better product or service due to the diversity of those that contributed their ideas.

    But these are the same people who also tell us that women are exactly like men and that any difference is a false social construct. That being the case, then once [oppressed minority] reac

  • Some facts... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrVxD ( 184537 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @07:50PM (#50675207) Homepage Journal

    In my long (over 30 year) career, I've never once seen anyone hired because they were male despite there being a more-able female candidate.
    I'm not saying it doesn't happen - I've just never seen it.

    On the other hand, I *have* seen a less-capable candidate hired because they were female.
    I'm not saying it's common (not least because I don't think it is) - but I have seen it.

    In my experience, whether you keep your reproductive organs internally or externally has exactly ZERO influence on how good your code is - so can we just cut all this SJW bullshit, and hire the best person for the job?

    • In my decades, I've seen women openly and subtly refused roles or downgraded in evaluations because "they might get pregnant, or married, or follow their husband's career, or they'd be distracting to the workplace, or reduce the camarederie, etc., etc., etc.". And I've certainly seen considerable sexual harassment in the workplace.

      I've also seen a less capable female colleague hired. Then everyone refused to train them, and gave them the work no one else could be bothered to do, and the results were predict

      • by msobkow ( 48369 )

        As the former manager for a team of 75 consultants, I saw the exact opposite. The companies my staff were placed at were so hell-bent on improving their stats that every woman they employed was promoted to project manager, team leader, or management within 2-3 years of starting with the company, far faster than any males were.

        A minority woman? Shit, she was a director in five years.

  • The current round of internships is open internationally to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people. Additionally, it's open to residents and nationals of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

    Isn't that discrimination? Why must I be of a certain race or sexuality to be considered for a job? Aren't there laws against this in the US?

  • Daughters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by irrational_design ( 1895848 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @08:10PM (#50675381)
    I keep trying to convince my teenage daughters that they should get into coding since they are absolutely guaranteed to get a great job after college, even if they are just mediocre developers, purely because of their gender! But no... they would rather study things like journalism and anthropology. My mind boggles. I am a professional coder who also teaches a college level web development course on the side. I have the resources and experience to train them, but my offers fall on deaf ears. Sigh. Even after being married to a woman and having four daughters I just don't get girls.
    • by tom229 ( 1640685 )
      You haven't done enough to lift them from the burden of societal pressures... obviously. I mean it certainly can't be that your daughters are their own people with their own ideas about what they want to with their lives. That wouldn't fit in the PC vacuum of reality.
  • It's time for women to build their own open source culture and projects away from the harmful influence of men.
  • The link goes to a blog post over a year old. Is this really an active group? If women want to go Open Source but don't like the current regime, they can just start new Open Source projects under their rules.
  • No. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @08:43PM (#50675619)

    "Diversity remains an issue in tech firms across the nation"

    It's a bullshit issue, and its importance is artificially inflated by SJW groups. Frankly, these companies that think there has to be a 50/50 split in everything need to get their heads out of the collective asses.

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