Outreach Program for Women: Lessons in Collaboration

Marina Zhurakhinskaya

Since 2010, the GNOME Foundation's Outreach Program for Women has provided 72 women with an opportunity to participate in Free Software internships. In the last year, it has expanded to 23 Free Software organizations, including the Linux Kernel, Mozilla, and Wikimedia.

The diversity of the GNOME community has changed dramatically as a result of this effort. While women comprised only 4% of GNOME contributors attending the Desktop Summit 2009, women comprised 17% of attendees at GUADEC 2012. In a recent survey of newcomers who joined and stayed involved in 12 Free Software organizations, 50% of GNOME respondents were women whereas only 6% of the respondents from other organizations were women, with no other organization having more than 15%. Moreover, GNOME had 22 female respondents, which was a greater number than the 20 female respondents from all of the other organizations combined.

This talk will cover the history of the program, its current status, what makes it successful, how we apply the same strategies to improve the experience for all GNOME newcomers, and what other initiatives help increase the diversity of Free Software.