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Christine Belzie
Christine Belzie

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Where are all the womxn-owned open source projects?

Throughout my journey in the open source world, I noticed that most of the projects have been led by men. While contributing to them has been enjoyable, I can’t help but notice that a finding a womxn-owned open source project is like searching for a needle in a haystack(for folks who speak English as a second language, it's an informal way of saying something is very difficult to find). What are some strategies that can be done to increase the representation of womxn as open source project creators?

Top comments (17)

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rcheesley profile image
Ruth Cheesley

Hi folks! I'm Project Lead for Mautic, an open source marketing automation platform, as my full time occupation. Also don't come across many folk in the space who are not men.

I have been involved with several open source projects over the years, and I find it interesting to see how things work (or don't work) in different projects, cultures etc. I think sharing openly is a really important way to communicate best practices, learn from others and model what we want to see in the world.

I try to focus on making the places that I do interact and engage within the open source world a welcoming space for all, and work on projects that help engage more folks with open source from minority groups.

Do come and join the Women in Open Source community mentioned by @lornajane in the comments if you'd find it helpful!

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cbid2 profile image
Christine Belzie

Thanks for the mention @rcheesley! :)

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__masashi__ profile image
Masashi

I don't know why as many women don't own open source projects as men do. It is really unfortunate, but I actually want to know the answer.
I guess that it is caused due to a common problem in many fields, women being assigned with and made responsible for more family duties. In many regions across the world, especially Japan where domestic workload distribution among males and females is very unbalanced, women look after the household chores and other tasks, which might barrier them from taking more responsibilities such as, owning/maintaining an open source project.

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cbid2 profile image
Christine Belzie

I guess that it is caused due to a common problem in many fields, women being assigned with and made responsible for more family duties.
This is a sad but true response @__masashi__ . It also does not help that women are often overlooked when it comes to leadership.

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__masashi__ profile image
Masashi

Yeah. Somehow this remains the truth despite innumerous efforts by a lot on individuals.

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lornajane profile image
Lorna Jane Mitchell

I'm an open source project maintainer (although it's co-owned as my comaintainer is male), but I don't know many other women doing the same.

The strategies I am working on are: being a visible minority myself by using identifiably feminine handle and avatar, and starting a new community and website for women in open source .... that one is very early days and we're still building over there, but you're all welcome to check it out and tell your friends womenofopensource.org/

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cassidoo profile image
Cassidy Williams

I think a lot of it comes down to privilege unfortunately.

  1. Attitudes in open source are not always kind and rather demanding, and so when you're already underrepresented in an industry, it can be much more of a burden on you to "represent"
  2. Open source is unpaid work a grand majority of the time. The people who often can take on unpaid work are men who come from money.
  3. Similar to what @__masashi__ said too, women take on a disproportional amount of housework and domestic work as well that takes their time away, and OSS requires time.

All this being said, Astro (astro.build) has some women maintainers, and Vue.js as well. Angular, too. A lot are out there, just not nearly as prominent a lot of the time!

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ramsey profile image
Ben Ramsey

Tagging @erikaheidi, who might be able to point you to repos managed by women and other underrepresented folks. I know she used to maintain a website that helped promote underrepresented open source creators and encouraged sponsorship of them.

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cbid2 profile image
Christine Belzie

Thanks @ramsey! :)

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cbid2 profile image
Christine Belzie

Hey everyone, I just launched a new daily.dev squad called Open Source Queens! 🙂 It's a squad on Daily.Dev where women and non-binary maintainers, contributors, and founders can share content about their experiences in the open source community. I decided to do this after the buzz I received from this post. Click here to join: app.daily.dev/squads/opensourceque...

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corners2wall profile image
Corners to wall

You could start your own open source project! And community will contribute into your project :)

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darkwiiplayer profile image
𒎏Wii 🏳️‍⚧️

For one, many maintainers of older projects aren't the original authors but take the project over after a while; of course this is usually based on merit, but it's also another place where I imagine prejudice can sneak in.

But it's also just harder these days to find a big niche to fill. Things like UI libraries, database connectors, networking, etc. already exist for all the common languages and the things that could take off in the future are ones that would take more effort to get started.

These days, if you want to start an open source project that actually makes it big, you really need a new idea and need to get lucky with it. Many of the men at the head of open source projects got there on the wave of things that were non-trivial to implement but obviously needed.

So while in theory, yes, it would be possible to "just start a project", this would most likely just remain a personal effort that nobody really cares much about. And having personal github repos with a FOSS license probably isn't what the question is about, is my guess.

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corners2wall profile image
Corners to wall

There are no irreplaceable people :)
On the last project, a foreign module was used as the core of the system. Some craftsman came and uprooted it. The new system has become more flexible than the old one

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cbid2 profile image
Christine Belzie

Good point @corners2wall, but it’s easier said than done, especially when you’re a woman in tech.

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0vortex profile image
TED Vortex (Teodor Eugen Duțulescu)

Mind me for being European but what is a womxn?

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cbid2 profile image
Christine Belzie

Womxn: a more inclusive term to referring to people who were assigned female at birth.