Tag Archives: Open source

Google Summer of Code 2011: application tips

Student applications for Google Summer of Code open March 28 and close April 8, but students are expected to begin talking to mentoring organisations now. The mentoring organisations for 2011 have just been announced.

Students who are interested in applying: this is a big process, don’t wait for the official opening to get to work on researching and talking to mentoring organisations, as there are only two weeks between the open and close of applications. Here’s some starting points:

Terri’s post from last year, Showing your awesomeness for Google Summer of Code has many more details.

If anyone wants to discuss experiences with applying to Summer of Code, or evaluating applications, please do so in this post!

Update: this thread is for discussing how best to apply to Summer of Code. So that that isn’t drowned out, use the classifieds post for advertising your project or projects you have worked on, and for general discussion of Google Summer of Code that isn’t on either of those topics, use the latest open thread.

GF classifieds: Google Summer of Code 2011 edition

Google Summer of Code–yes, bad name for anyone in the southern hemisphere, but you are allowed to apply!–is a project sponsoring Open Source development by students (largely university students, you have to be 18+ or turning 18 by April 25 to apply) over the northern summer period. Google pays a stipend for students to work on a contribution to a project over summer. Open Source projects are selected as mentoring organisations, students apply by submitting a project proposal to a project, and some of those proposals are accepted.

The mentoring organisations for 2011 have just been announced. Student applications open March 28 and close April 8, but students are expected to begin talking to mentoring organisations now.

So as with last year, here’s an edition of GF classifieds for mentoring organisations to reach out to readers here. If you are a mentor or part of a mentoring organisation for Google SoC and you’d like to bring your project to the attention of readers here, please post a description in comments at any time before April 2 (comments automatically close then). The more you can say the better:

  • Do you have link to a list of ideas for projects?
  • Can applicants make contact with you or your mentors in order to discuss their application before submitting?
  • Are previous years’ students available to discuss their experiences?
  • What kind of skills are you looking for?

Of course, if your project has made a commitment to diversity in some way, then feel free to tell us about that.

Former Summer of Code participants who worked on a project and liked it and found it welcoming or diverse, feel free to also promote your former project here, if they are mentoring again.

Note: obviously Google SoC projects accept applications from people of any gender. The reason for this post is to level the playing field at the awareness level. By posting here, what you’re doing is hopefully increasing the visibility of your project among interested women, rather than excluding anyone else from applying.

Update: this thread is for mentoring organisations and former mentees to promote themselves and their projects. So that that isn’t drowned out, use the application tips post for discussing how to apply, and for general discussion of Google Summer of Code that isn’t on either of those topics, use the latest open thread.

Always check behind you for linkspams when out after dark (March 19th, 2011)

  • BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, and IBM are pleased to announce a new annual event, the BCS Karen Spärck Jones Lecture honouring women in computing research. Fran Allen will give the first lecture on 24 May 2011 at the BCS London office.
  • The GNOME Outreach Program for Women internships are open for another round, from May 23 through August 22, 2011 with applications closing April 8. That round coincides with Google Summer of Code and GNOME enourages women interested to apply for both programs.
  • [Trigger warning for tokenism] On Being Feminism’s “Ms. Nigga”: Latoya Peterson on tokenism, conferences and feminism. Some folks would call that an attempt at diversity – but it is a nefarious double bind for those of us who get the nod. To refuse to participate may mean that voice is never represented, that the voices are the underrepresented are once again unvoiced, unheard, and perhaps unknown. Unfortunately, absence can be interpreted as a reinforcement of the status quo… However, to accept the position also means to be pressed into the token spot.
  • Luciana Fuji Pontello, a GNOME Women’s Outreach participant and the Cheese webcam application developer responsible for the application’s camerabin port and gobject introspection support was interviewed for International Womens Day.
  • [Trigger Warning for implied violence and disregard for women] Tim Buckley of the ctrl-alt-del gaming comic criticises some of the “padding” quests in Dragon Age 2 which are… insidiously disturbed: [...] when I came across a sparkly pile of bones in Darktown labeled “Remains of (some woman whose name I can’t really remember), and upon looting got actual remains instead of treasure, I figured I’d started a quest at least worthy of a small cutscene about how this guy’s poor wife had been kidnapped by the slavers I’d just finished slaughtering, and how happy he was that he could now give her a proper burial. But nope. Instead it turned out to be just another schmuck who acted like he’d misplaced his fucking car keys or something. Maybe customs are different in Kirkwall, I don’t know.
  • [Trigger Warning for implied violence and disregard for women] For bonus failpoints, there are multiple quests that follow this script in the game. Fuck you, Bioware. Really. To quote one gamer friend: Baldur’s Gate II doesn’t mean you get away with this.
  • The Ladycomicsparty is back for another year: If you are a lady who is involved with comics, and you’ll be near NYC around the MoCCA fest, you should come to this!
  • Jeri Ellsworth devised a $10 version of a $5000 safety product and was accused of having set back the progress of women 100 years. Whaaaaat? As Cory Doctorow notes, Misogyny is alive and well in technology circles. An Ellsworth supporter retorts that The only way Jeri Ellsworth could set back women 100 years would be by developing a time machine in her guest room.
  • Ladyada on the front cover of Wired! (And doing it Rosie the Riveter style!) This is the first female engineer to appear WIRED’s cover.

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the geekfeminism tag on delicious or the #geekfeminism tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Linkspam: International (Geek) Women’s Day

The first International Women’s Day was observed on 19 March, 1911: 36,515 days ago. In honor of 101 such observances, and in the spirit of celebrating the achievements of women, here are a few of the past year’s highlights and milestones for women in geekdom.

Awards and Recognition

Community

Business

  • A report published in 2010 showed that venture-backend startups led by women delivered better than average results
  • Jane Silber became CEO of Canonical

Academia

  • Physicist/Feminist marks IWD by posting statistics on the progress of women in science from 1958 to 2006, using statistics from the NSF

Please share your favorites in the comments!

But he’s really a nice linkspam (24th February, 2011)

  • Ada Lovelace Day, the once a year blogswarm highlighting women in technology will be held on October 7 (unlike the previous two years when it was held in March).
  • More keynoters in the open source space: Runa Bhattacharjee and Lydia Pintscher are two of the three keynotes for conf.kde.in 2011.
  • My mom has a PhD in Math” – fighting back against gendered advertising.
  • @victoriajanssen tweets: “FIVE of the SIX Nebula nominations for novel were written by WOMEN!!!” as well as 4 women nominees for short story. (via @skud)
  • Top Secret Rosies is a documentary made last year about the computers of WWII, “when computers were human and women were underestimated.”
  • Hillary Rosner writes about learning that she really did like science after all.

One year I took an introductory genetics class (“genes for jocks”), just to confirm that science still sucked, and when I earned a C+ I retreated, satisfied, to the comfort of literature, politics, and cultural theory.

And then a strange thing happened. Several years into my journalism career, I became captivated by stories about the environment. I couldn’t read enough of them.

  • Cordelia Fine of “Delusions of Gender” fame writes about sexist speeches by former Harvard Presidents, and straw-feminists [trigger warning for discussion of essentialism].

You can suggest links for future linkspams in comments here, or by using the geekfeminism tag on delicious or the #geekfeminism tag on Twitter. Please note that we tend to stick to publishing recent links (from the last month or so).

Thanks to everyone who suggested links.

Because sexual assault is more common than you think

This is a guest post by Jacinta Richardson. Jacinta runs Perl Training Australia and is a strong supporter of making IT more friendly to everyone.

This is an edited version of a mailing list post.

The apology from the organisers about Mark Pesce’s linux.conf.au keynote caused much discussion on the linux.conf.au attendees’ chat list. The vast number of responders felt the right thing had been done with the apology and were happy, however there were a small number (5 or less) squeaky wheels that insisted that the talk was fine and that no apology was necessary.

This post is an edited response to my reply in a thread discussing whether the anti-harassment policy was too broadly scoped as well as possibly unnecessary.

Warning: this entry discusses sexual assault, rape and real statistics.

The anti-harassment policy that linux.conf.au adopted didn’t set an impossibly high bar for attendees or speakers, despite the complaints of a select few. As far as I know, all of the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 speakers, and all but one of the 2011 speakers managed to adhere to professional standards in their talks
and not use images that did or would have caused the ruckus Mark’s talk did. At about 90 (official) speakers per conference and maybe another 90 mini-conf speakers per conference that’s about 899 talks which all managed this feat, and quite a few of those talks were challenging, hard hitting, world shattering and all the things that Mark’s talk was too.

However Mark’s talk relentlessly employed the language and imagery of sexual assault as a metaphor for the loss of personal freedoms, and this is inappropriate. For all that Mark’s theme was timely and valuable, the talk would have been so much better had it been delivered with respect for those members of our community who have actually been assaulted.
Continue reading

Advocacy project for women in open technology and culture: The Ada Initiative

Today, Valerie Aurora and I launched the Ada Initiative, a new non-profit organization dedicated to increasing participation of women in open technology and culture, which includes open source software, Wikipedia and other open data, and open social media.

Valerie and I have 10 years experience in open source software, open social media, and women in computing activism with groups like Geek Feminism, Systers, and LinuxChix. The Ada Initiative is focused on helping women get careers in open technology through recruitment and training programs for women, education for community members who want to help women, and working with corporations and projects to improve their outreach to women.

Get involved

If you’d like to get involved, check out our contact page. If you’re really excited, write a blog post about us. We’re on Twitter and Facebook too.

Project ideas

If you have project ideas for the Ada Initiative, especially the kind of work that iis difficult for volunteer groups to do (that is, intensive and/or lengthy), we would be happy to hear them. You could raise them in comments here, or contact us.

Donating and funding

We are not yet accepting donations, but if you are interested in helping fund the Ada Initiative or putting us in touch with potential donors, please contact us.

We’d like to stress though that we do not think that women, inside or outside open technology and culture should fund the bulk of the Ada Initiative’s work; that is the job of projects and companies that make money from their work. If you are enthusiastic about the project and want to help with startup costs you will welcome to donate, but we do not expect you to, particularly if it would be in any way a financial burden.

Relationship with Geek Feminism

While both of the co-founders of the Ada Initiative write for the Geek Feminism blog, the Ada Initiative and the Geek Feminism project are not the same thing. The Geek Feminism blog, wiki and community comments on, critiques and builds geekdom as a whole and is far from limited to open technology and culture. The Geek Feminism blog is independent from the Ada Initiative and will remain so. Valerie and I will continue to write for the blog on various subjects outside of any work we do for the Ada Initiative.

Powerful people: Mark Pesce’s linux.conf.au keynote

Warning: this entry discusses a sexualised presentation, and links to slides from that presentation. Images linked include stylised sexual violence.

Note to LCA2011 attendees and other members of the technical community: discussion at Geek Feminism is restricted by our comments policy. If you want to make commentary that does not adhere to that policy, you need to do it somewhere else. Discussion of Pesce’s technical content or the importance of his main subject matter is also off-topic for this post and will not be published.

On Friday at linux.conf.au 2011, Mark Pesce gave a morning keynote that resulted in complaints citing their harassment policy. I made one such complaint, here is an excerpt:

Dear lca2011 organisers,

Your anti-harassment policy at http://lca2011.linux.org.au/about/harassment
states that:

Harassment includes sexual images in public space.

This morning’s keynote by Mark Pesce included slides with the following
illustrations among others:

1. a pig and a duck apparently having sex
2. a black and white sexualised strangulation
3. a fetish scene with a woman in a mask spanking a man in a mask

Several of these were accompanied by a verbal metaphor to “being fucked” in
case the visuals weren’t explicit enough.

Continue reading

Wednesday Geek Woman: Tabitha Roder

This is a guest post.

Tabitha Roder is the leader of the One Laptop per Child volunteers in New Zealand. This is a group that meets every saturday in 3 cities across the country. This is the largest OLPC group, and their regular reliable contributions are a huge thing for the project.

One Laptop per Child is on a mission to give a laptop, loaded with education tools, to every one of the world’s poorest children. They’ve deployed millions of these laptops already to every single child and teacher across entire countries all around the world. The laptop goes to children who don’t have paper and pencils, who don’t have books. It is their education platform.

Tabitha formed the New Zealand group over three years ago, and has grown it into what it is today.

In November her contribution was recognised by the New Zealand Open source awards, where she won the prize for best contributor.

Tabitha spearheaded the OLPC deployment in Samoa in August 2010, spending two weeks in schools, installing the infrastructure, training teachers and handing out the laptops to every child and teacher.

Tabitha also organised the Education miniconf at the linux.conf.au 2010 conference.

She also contributes to the open source elearning platform moodle.

Tabitha is also an electric vehicle enthusiast, and is part of the team building an electric racing car.

Tabitha’s personal website.
Details of Tabitha’s nomination (and winning) best contributor.

Creative Commons License
This post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Re-post: Is requiring Open Source experience sexist?

In anticipation of a December/January slowdown, I’m reposting some of my writing from earlier in 2010, for the benefit of new (and nostalgic!) readers. This piece originally appeared on the 9th April 2010.

Code Anthem’s Don’t Judge a Developer by Open Source (via Meg in the Open Thread) argues that companies that rely on Open Source coding contributions as a hiring criterion are both demanding a lot of their hiree’s free time and are sexist:

Open source is a culture. There are plenty of smart and passionate developers out there who are not part of that culture. And certainly there are plenty of dumb and curmudgeonly developers out there participating in open source…. There are there smarter ways to spend your time. The stereotypical open source developer works for a bumbling corporate during the day, doing dull work (but necessary to make money) and then comes home to work on his passion, OpenOKHRWUJ Framework…

Requiring open source contributions is sexist… Open source is dominated by men even more so than the programming community as a whole… it’s irresponsible to require your new hire developers to come from a male-oriented pool. Alas… “Underrepresentation breeds underrepresentation”.

I have a comment in moderation there in which I say that I think the stereotype is incorrect: that Open Source developers in my experience are either university students or other young people with a lot of free time, or they’re paid Open Source developers. (I know hobbyist Open Source coders with unrelated dev or other full-time jobs too, yes, but not nearly so many and their contributions are for obvious reasons usually not as significant. If nothing else, this group has a really high incidence of typing injuries.)

But that’s a side-note: I think the core point of the post stands. Open Source is very male-dominated, is known for being unpleasantly sexist, and is also a subculture whose norms (even where neutral as regards sexism) don’t fit everyone. Requiring these norms feeds right into the problem talked about in Being Inclusive vs Not Being Exclusive:

People who come from underprivileged minorities are usually very experienced in the art of being excluded. Sometimes it’s overt – “we don’t like your kind” – but many times it’s subtle. They’re told that they’re “not quite right”, or they “don’t have the right look”, or “don’t have the right experience”, or just aren’t told anything. At the same time, they are surrounded by all sorts of imagery and communique about how they don’t quite belong, about how they have to change themselves to fit in, about how they are undesirable. They do not see a lot of examples they can relate to; even the ones that come close tend to stick out for being “Exotic”, being a token. They already have a lot of barriers against them and are already of the mind that they’ll more likely be rejected than accepted.

If you insist on a lot of experience in a particular male-dominated sub-culture as a prerequisite for a job, that reads as “we prefer [a subset of] men, basically, or at least people willing to work hard to minimise all the ways in which they aren’t [part of the subset of] men” even if you didn’t intend it to and even if you didn’t want it to.

Code Anthem isn’t, as far as I can tell, thinking about Open Source paid jobs in that post, but they of course have this problem magnified. It seems vastly reasonable on the face of it: hiring existing Open Source contributors, ideally people from your very own community, means you hire people who are well-versed in the particular mode of development you do, in particular, the use of text-based mediums for communicating among a distributed team. Since Open Source (or more to the point Free Software) projects are at least sometimes associated with particular non-commercial goals and philosophies agreement with those seems desirable. But since most long-term Open Source developers need to be paid for it, it strongly feeds into this cycle of long-term Open Source developers continuing to be male and of a particular kind of culture, and continuing to overtly or subtly signal that that’s who is welcome in Open Source development.

Possible other posts of interest:

  • Terri’s Want more women in open source? Try paying them.
  • Dorothea Salo’s Sexism and group formation:

    A woman can be an honorary guy, sure, with all the perquisites and privileges pertaining to that status—as long as she never lets anything disturb the guy façade.

    It’s good to be an honorary guy, don’t get me wrong. Guys are fun to be around. Guys know stuff. Guys help out other guys. Guys trust other guys. And in my experience, they don’t treat honorary guys any differently from how they treat regular guys. It’s really great to be an honorary guy.

    The only problem is that part of the way that guys distinguish themselves from not-guys is by contrasting themselves with women.