Googlers @ Women and Open Source: Panel Discussion

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Last week the SD Forum held a panel discussion in Mountain View, CA entitled Tech Women: Women and Open Source. The discussion focused on explaining what open source is and how people can become involved in the open source community.

The Speakers included Google Open Source Program Office’s Cat Allman, Automattic and Wordpress hacker Beau Lebens, LinuxForce’s Elizabeth Krumbach, and MeeGo’s Alison Chaiken. The panel was moderated by Janet Fouts, founder of the Social Media Coaching Center and Senior Partner at Tatu Digital Media.

Some questions posed to the panel included:

Video 1
(3:45) What does open source mean?
(8:26) Which women do you view as role models or mentors. What women
are making a difference in the open source community?
(13:29) There is a huge community around open source. How would someone
who is new to open source get started in open source?
(23:39) What barriers to entry for women have you seen in the open source
(32:25) How do you mentor others?
(44:33) Where’s the profit?
(50:20) How would you find a group or organization to join in open source?

Video 2
(01:02) Who are the main contributors to open source? Are they people
working on open source full time or in their spare time?

As an attendee of the meeting I found the overall message to be that anyone can become involved in open source with any kind of background, you don’t have to be a programmer to be an open source contributor. You can help with documentation, marketing, events, help with mailing list questions or a number of other roles that need to be filled in a particular project.

There are open source projects on just about any topic you can imagine so search the web for something you are interested in, whether it’s disaster relief, gaming, mathematics, translation software, music players, business applications and so on. Watch the IRC channel, join mailing lists and just hang out and absorb the knowledge and vibe of the particular open source project that interests you and you can quickly learn about the project and find your niche in the community.

Remember, there is something for everyone in open source. Join in the fun!

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs Office