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Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL)

Advancing an inclusive digital society

November 14, 2018

Towards A More Gender-Inclusive Open Source Community

For over two decades, free and open source software has given us the ability to empower anyone to become collective owners of impactful technology with the freedom to study, change, and share technology solutions for social good. At the Digital Impact Alliance, we strongly believe in what these freedoms can offer to those working in the international development, peacemaking and humanitarian relief sectors. Open source software is an important part of the Principles of Digital Development, which is why our Open Source Center supports those contributing to and applying this technology in development work.

While open source has long been used in the ICT4D sector, the open source community still faces challenges to represent different demographics despite the movement’s aspiration of inclusiveness and global reach. Given that the codes and algorithms underpinning digital technologies inherently reflect the values and backgrounds of those who build and contribute to them, women’s underrepresentation in open source is a challenge to the community’s commitment to inclusivity.

Recognizing the intersectional nature of this issue, DIAL conducted new research to explore the experiences of women working in open source and better understand why women are underrepresented and do not always feel welcome in this community.

Initially shared at MozFest 2018, the report entitled Towards A More Gender-Inclusive Open Source Community provides a framework for action and highlights a set of reformist, conformist, and transformist recommendations on how different stakeholders – organizations supporting women in coding, open source communities, employers, conference organizers, governments and funders – can work together to build a more inclusive environment.

This research report is the culmination of a thorough review of the literature, hundreds of hours of dialogue with leaders of, active participants in, and people who have turned away from open source communities. The findings of the research explore how these communities can help reflect the needs of women, provide them with the support they need to be successful and ultimately enable them to contribute to the development of more effective, equitable and inclusive open source products.

We’re eager to share this research and we welcome your feedback on the report and our future work at DIAL’s Open Source Center Forum at  https://forum.osc.dial.community/.

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