Gender Differences in Early Free and Open Source Software Joining Process

TitleGender Differences in Early Free and Open Source Software Joining Process
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsKuechler, V, Gilbertson, C, Jensen, C
Secondary TitleIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology 378 (OSS 2012)
Date Published09/2012
PublisherIFIP AICT, Springer
Place PublishedEighth International Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2012)
Keywordsbuildroot, busybox, diversity, email, jaws, joining process, mailing lists, parrot, uClibc, Yum

With the growth of free and open source software (FOSS) and the adoption of FOSS solutions in business and everyday life, it is important that projects serve their growingly diverse user base. The sustainability of FOSS projects relies on a constant influx of new contributors. Several large demo- graphic surveys found that FOSS communities are very homogenous, dominated by young men, similar to the bias existing in the rest of the IT workforce. Building on previous research, we examine mailing list subscriptions and posting statistics of female FOSS participants. New participants often experience their first interaction on a FOSS project’s mailing list. We explored six FOSS projects – Buildroot, Busybox, Jaws, Parrot, uClibc, and Yum. We found a declining rate of female participation from the 8.27% of subscribers, to 6.63% of posters, and finally the often reported code contributor rate of 1.5%. We found a disproportionate attrition rate among women along every step of the FOSS joining process.


"We examined subscriber logs and data for six FOSS projects..."
"We examined the differences between posters and non-posters to determine the attrition rate..."
"Using data from the US Census, we matched names to lists of the most common female and male names. We identified 666 users using this process."

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