Women's Invisible Contribution to Free and Open Source Software


We will question the 1% female representation to FOSS development projects by proposing a critical analysis and overview of women's contributions to FOSS, which turns them from absent to invisible for the community.

Whenever there is a debate about women's representation in FOSS, the answer is 1%. This discouraging statistics has not been much questioned, but only repeated. However, smaller research announces 15% of female participation, while Angela "webchick" Byron, announced 7-10% of women in Drupal (2009). We will present the results of a MA research, based on a qualitative analysis women contributions to FOSS. We will classify women's contributions, by proposing a typology of contributors: technicians, mediators and diffusers. Then, we will propose some reasons for women's “invisibility” based either on the effectuation of “invisible” tasks inside FOSS or on contributing FOSS knowledge to other communities such as libraries, community centres, public administration, education. In conclusion, we will identify risks from the option women's work in FOSS remains invisible and provide recommendations on how to value the work not only of women but also of non-programmers and non-experts in the field.

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