"As an undergraduate engineering student Karen Sandler was used to
being the only woman in a class. At the time she didn't want to talk
about why there weren't more women in technology, though, believing
the attention would only make things worse. That attitude has changed
over time, however, as she experienced sexism more directly. At tech
conferences, for example, her male colleagues would sometimes ask her
whose spouse she was, not knowing that she was actually a speaker at
Now as a FOSS attorney and the executive director of the GNOME
Foundation, Sandler is taking a different approach by addressing
5 tips for Bringing More Women into Open Source
1. Address women directly.
2. Accept non-students and non-coders.
3. Connect women with mentors. "There's a feeling that women are less
likely to ask for help, and find a mailing list intimidating...
Mentors respond to newcomers and make them feel welcome," Sandler
4. Require a contribution as part of the application. It can be small
like fixing a minor bug or rewording a pagraph of documentation. It
gives people a head start for joining the community and also gives
program administrators a better idea of who is applying and whether
5. Make sure women don't feel pressure to propose really ambitious projects."
Peter Reutemann, Dept. of Computer Science, University of Waikato, NZ
Ph. +64 (7) 858-5174