Women in Open Source: a focus group in March

Thanks to one of Audrey’s RSS feeds, I read Women in Computer Science – An Endangered Species of a New Kind? this afternoon. About the same time, I received email from a professor at UMD who is helping organize PostgreSQL Conference East. She would like to hold a Women in Open Source Focus Group session during the conference, and we’re looking for participants.

Over the last year, I’ve read many times that computer science enrollment for women is down, and more generally, for the sciences. The author of the endanger species post says that she’s going to do some more research to confirm or deny that trend.

I just picked up a book Why Aren’t More Women in Science, with eds. Stephen J. Ceci and Wendy M. Williams. I’ll be writing more about the individual articles over the next couple weeks. I found it referenced among some blog entries about the lack of diversity at technology-related conferences.

On the “things might get better” front: I think that we’re starting to achieve a critical mass of women who code and also have free time to devote to trying to solve these problems. Of course men can work on it too, but there’s unquestionable value in having a group of women leading efforts. DevChix is certainly one of those groups. Those of us in Code ‘N’ Splode are trying to get off the ground and eventually provide leadership as well.

The Women in Open Source track at SCALE is coming up next Friday. I know a few of the people presenting, and I’m hoping to make some more connections on behalf of PostgreSQL.

Lack of diversity in conferences – economic, ethnic and gender; presenters and attendees – is something I’d like to change. My shot over the bow is this focus group for women in open source during the PostgreSQL conference in College Park, MD, March 29-30. There are some PhD candidates and professors doing research on this topic there! Anyone interested in joining us, please contact me.

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