Elizabeth Naramore has knocked it out of the park with Gender in IT, OSS, and PHP, and how it affects us *all*. It’s honestly the best article on women in open source that I’ve read in the last five years.
Not only does she lay out the situation incredibly clearly, but she backs it up with references to research that supports her points. For instance, here’s what she says on the “standing out” issue:
I did a bit of research and found that it’s not just women who feel uncomfortable in the gender minority, but men do also. Studies have shown that “being in the numerical minority in a mixed-sex team is not a favorable experience for either women or men (Powell & Graves, 2002; LBS, 2007). Men report feeling uncomfortable, somewhat alienated and highly aware of their minority status when faced with being in a female majority group. (Spelman, et al, 1986). As well, numerous studies have shown that when anyone is in the minority in a group, they are more apt to place more emphasis on and be more self-conscious of the quality or trait that makes them distinctive from the rest of the group (O’Leary, et al, 1985; Kirkham, 1985). Bottom line is, it’s human nature to feel out of place when you’re in the minority regardless of gender, and if that means you’re the only female around, you’re going to be even more acutely aware of it. So ladies, do not adjust your set. There is nothing wrong with you.
She also goes into the research behind retention rates, the effects of the free time gender gap, and how diversity affects group effectiveness, creativity, and innovation.
I wish I’d had this article a month ago. I’ll be leaning on it heavily going forward, and I recommend that everyone who’s interested in this stuff bookmarks for quick reference. It’s going to become a standard.