Sexism in free and open source software (FOSS) culture has been increasingly discussed and documented over the past couple of years. However, little has been done about it. Moreover, the lack of women contributors to projects such as Wikipedia has been highlighted by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (news passim) and in Australia, Collective Action is endeavouring to counter this too with its Women for Wikipedia initiative (more news passim).
To highlight the importance of involving women, Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation, says: “Open technology and culture are shaping our future and must reflect all people. Involving more women in the creation of our future is a critical step in building a healthy Internet world.”
Valerie Aurora and Mary Gardiner, who have both been involved in women’s FOSS groups for more than a decade, are now determined to change this situation with the foundation of The Ada Initiative, a non-profit organization with the aim of encouraging women’s participation in both FOSS and related groups, such as the Free Culture Movement and Wikipedia.
The Ada Initiative is focused on helping women get careers in open technology through recruitment and training programs for women, education for community members who want to help women and working with companies and projects to improve their outreach to women.