In a recent GSoC podcast Leslie brought out an idea that we had discussed at the mentor's summit a few months back. The idea was providing some sort of labeling for Open Source projects to mark them as woman friendly. The idea wasn't popular. Now I have to defend it. <smile>

I think that in the podcast it was generally presented as a way to get female contributors, which I don't think is the sole purpose. I don't see it as a way to get contributors as much as a way to mark environments that aren't hostile to women. Here's the worst case as I see it:

* i-am-a-girl enters room
<dev1> Oh, boobies!
<dev2> i-am-a-girl: please send me pictures of your boobies!
<dev3> dev1, dev2: be polite, ask for lingerie photos first!
<dev3> i-am-a-girl: I like red and lacy!
* i-am-a-girl leaves room
It would be hard to imagine a woman who would not be offended by such a conversation. If that is her first experience with Open Source, we've lost a potential contributor. If women believe that will be their experience when they enter a developer chat room, we've lost a potential contributor.

So the problem comes down to challenging the perception that chat rooms contain such vulgarities. I've never seen anything like that in my life online, I'm skeptical to whether there are people that tone def, but as long as there is the perception that there might be we need to work to remove it. And that is my goal with a labeling program. Not to exclude projects, but to give them a goals and provide some framework to ensure that their communities aren't hostile towards women.

posted Feb 1, 2008 | permanent link