Danese Cooper -
Speaking Topic: WIOS: Why Whinging* Doesn't Work

Danese Cooper has a 15-year history in the software industry and has long been an advocate for transparent development methodologies. Cooper worked for six years at Sun Microsystems, Inc. on the inception and growth of the various open source projects sponsored by Sun (including OpenOffice.org, java.net and blogs.sun.com). She was Sun's chief open source evangelist and founded Sun's Open Source Programs Office. She has unique experience implementing open source projects from within a large proprietary company. She joined the OSI Board in December 2001 and currently serves as Secretary & Treasurer. She is also a member of the Apache Software Foundation. In March 2005, Cooper joined Intel to advise on open source projects, investment and support. She speaks internationally on open source and licensing issues.


I've spoken at many conferences on the topic of Women in Open Source and the so-called gender gap (reportedly only 2% of FOSS developers are women). I started the women@apache.org mail list and have participated in women@debian.org for several years. I participated in the study that support the assertion of this gap (Bernhard Kreiger's study for King's College). I chaired three very popular panels at OSCON on this topic as well.

But I have become increasingly concerned throughout all of this advocacy about our tendency to focus on the problem rather than on solutions. We seem to get stuck reciting all the trials and tribulations to which we've been subjected as technical women. I keep thinking about Billie Jean King and the leadership she provided to women in tennis. By focusing on the goal (equal pay) and not giving undue energy to whinging* or infighting she was able to herd cats and create a viable force in tennis that eventually resulted in tangible victory.

This talk will be humorous and will hopefully also tackle the serious issue of whinging instead of picking our (female technologist) selves up by the bloomers (or whatever underwear we wear) to focus on really changing the gender balance in open source. It will include practical advice about best practices and a picture of how open source might change if we really achieved focus on increasing recognized female contribution.