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GNOME and FSF highlight women in free software

by Peter Brown Contributions Published on Jan 05, 2010 12:07 PM
GNOME's Summer outreach program and FSF's LibrePlanet conference highlight women's participation in free software

Today, the FSF announced the dates for the 2010 LibrePlanet event, a conference for the free software community that expresses a vision for solidarity amongst developers, activists and users who are working towards the shared goal of a fully free software world--a world without reliance on proprietary software.

At the Women in Free Software mini-summit held at the FSF offices last year, LibrePlanet was identified as one of many ways we could support the work of women in our community. The minutes of that meeting express best the reason why this is so important to our goals: "Women represent less than 2% of the free software movement, yet our participation is a pre-requisite for the movement's success. Having more women in our community advocating freedom will enrich our movement."

LibrePlanet 2010 will feature a track of presentations from noteworthy women working across the full spectrum of activities in the free software community. By highlighting the work of women in our community we can also demonstrate to new female free software developers and freedom activists that all contributors are valued and we are actively seeking more diverse participation.

One of the most important programs I've seen for fostering women in the free software community is being run by the GNOME Free Desktop Project at http://projects.gnome.org/outreach/women/. The GNOME community provides a unique outreach program for women that encourages their participation throughout the year and makes available paid stipends for interns in the summer. The program goals are to:

    * Improve the resources available to all newcomers for getting involved in GNOME
    * Reach more women with the information about how exciting, varied and valuable work on GNOME or any other free software can be
    * Encourage women to contribute to GNOME
    * Enable several women to work on a GNOME project with a mentor and receive a stipend
    * Provide the background for women to start their own free software projects or pursue careers in the free software industry

I think this is a great initiative that should be supported and copied by other free software projects. One of the most important ways you can support the GNOME women's program is by donating to fund the upcoming intern stipends at http://projects.gnome.org/outreach/women/step2.html. I hope you will join me in supporting this program.

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