The lack of diversity in open source is a worrying factor even as the world accelerates to a new digital future powered by web3. This calls for intentional efforts in bridging this gap while building better experiences for women in the field.
Studies show that the numerous factors that derail women in tech are almost the same as to what has hindered women form joining open source. However, bringing solutions to this age old question will lie in a number of actions geared towards bridging this gap. This article seeks to highlight exactly that.
Where is the solution?
Bringing men to the table. If we are to successfully change the narrative, sessions on this topic call on having men as participants so as to garner their support and consciously reinforce the diversity need. Both genders have always failed when having an all male or women panel. Whether the conversation lies on matters that affect either gender, diversity in the panel is needed solely because we were made to coexist. Right? This point has however not been short of absurdity in comments and trolls on social media.
This is not a topic on having women at the table for the sake of it but solely to develop and build better software, non-gender biased software and delivering better outcomes just as research as shown gender diversity leads to increased productivity in OSS. Lots of benefits stem from OSS gender diversity which reckons the need.
A study done by Digital Impact Allianceshowed that building healthy open source communities’ codes of conduct was also key. This was backed by the call to ensure accountability and sanctions to transgressors if necessary. If anything, what's the point of having the said code of conduct if non-adherence is ignored?
Seemingly, addressing the mundane challenges in open source community development will also see the number of contributors rise thus having a ripple effect in the number of women joining the force. How? Open source in itself is not an entirely perfect field. Open source maintainers have faced resource and digital marketing challenges which have made good projects see a low number of users due to structural challenges. Such challenges are however being addressed by big techs, startup funders and a whole lot of best practices but accelerating such will also see a rise in the number of women through the domino effect.
Rewarding women in open source could also work in getting more women to join the OSS. RedHat has been a force in this sector. "We believe open source is the future of technology. It's time to recognize the contributions women are making and inspire a new generation to join the open source movement." - Red Hat You can view the list of the 2020 women in open source award winners here. Being inspired by another person' achievements is how we grow in any area of our lives!
We also need intentionality from the open source community as well. Recently Aviyel launched a #womaninopesource event which "features women who broke all these barriers to become champions of the Open Source Community. We look forward to hosting distinguished individuals from different walks of life who are working to bring change to the OSS community through their collective efforts."- Aviyel. Look out for that too even as we seek to break the glass ceiling. I recently joined Aviyel as a creator and seeing their efforts in bridging this gap is quite impressive.
The open source field is a career accelerator as earlier mentioned. However not every woman in tech ideally feels that the open source is theirs to explore, which is completely fine. As an open source contributor, I'd highly encourage joining this field based on the growth and learning opportunities that stem from OSS.
We have the power to bring to life that which we seek. Open Source community is open to women, come let's grow together and change the narrative!