Diversity in FOSS : Outreachy

 

tldr ; As a part of my work with Mozilla, I try to analyse different programs working towards diversity and inclusion in FOSS and their successes and failures. I wanted to collect some statistics for Outreachy and understand how it has helped increase the diversity in FOSS projects.

From Outreach Program for Women(OPW) to Outreachy..

Like the rest of the tech industry, the number of women participating in FOSS projects too is generally low. Outreach Program for Women were started to bridge this gap in FOSS projects and bring more women onboard. Women contact the FOSS organizations in the program they want to work with and write up a project proposal for the summer. If accepted, they are mentored by organization members over the duration of the program on their project.

The GNOME Foundation first started the internships program with one round in 2006, and then resumed the effort in 2010 with rounds organized twice a year and is currently in it’s thirteenth round. For the May 2015 round, the program was renamed to Outreachy with the goal of expanding to engage people from various underrepresented groups and was moved to Software Freedom Conservancy as its organizational home. In the December 2015 round, the program opened to people of color from groups underrepresented in technology in the United States, in addition to being open to women (cis and trans), trans men, and genderqueer people internationally.

How Outreachy has helped women

By having a program targeted specifically towards women, the Outreachy organizers have found that they reached talented and passionate participants, who were uncertain about how to start otherwise.

According to the organizers, the program is a welcoming link that will connect you with people working on individual projects in various FOSS organizations and guide you through your first contribution.

Personally, I couldn’t agree more with these two points. Outreachy has surely helped reduce the apprehension women face while first contributing to a FOSS project and feel more included. Additionally, I also feel that the program provides you with a nurturing community and network which remains with you beyond the program.

Impact of Outreachy in numbers and graphs

I wanted to collect some statistics for Outreachy and how it has helped increase the diversity in FOSS projects.

Till now, there have been 13 rounds of Outreachy (including Outreach Program for Women) and 368 women have taken part in the program and worked with FOSS organizations.

To understand the growth of the program and its impact in introducing women to FOSS projects, I created a graph showing the number of organizations participating in each round and number of selected participants.

outreachy_stats

Some numbers for Outreachy Round 13..

45 participants were selected to work on 41 different projects offered by 14 different organizations in this round like Linux Kernel, Fedora, Mozilla, OpenStack, Wikimedia, Zulip etc.

The following map shows the distribution of Outreachy participants in Round 13 according to their location.

mapsdataexport-2017-01-091

India topped the list with 16 women being selected in the program(40% of total selections) and North America followed behind with 9. I was particularly astonished to see Brazil being 4th in the list with 3 participants ! The selected participants truly form a diverse community with participants from all parts of the globe like Australia, Africa(Cameroon), Russia and even smaller countries like Albania and Philippines. Together there were 9 selections from European continent !

Here is a table showing the number of selected participants with their country :

1 INDIA 16
2 NORTH AMERICA 9
3 CANADA 4
4 BRAZIL 3
5 GERMANY 2
6 CAMEROON 1
7 POLAND 1
8 CHINA 1
9 SRI LANKA 1
10 PHILLIPINES 1
11 TURKEY 1
12 UK 1
13 FINLAND 1
14 RUSSIA 1
15 AUSTRALIA 1
16 ALBANIA 1
17 ROMANIA 1
18 SPAIN 1

 

Diversity in projects

From what I could understand, projects were mainly offered in these four categories : software development, research, UI – UX/ design, documentation and data analytics. UI – UX and data analytics projects involved some coding but didn’t seem to be completely development based and hence I have mentioned them separately.

Development 32
UI – UX 5
Research 4
Documentation 2
Data Analytics 2

 

Does this diversity extend to mentors and program co-ordinators ?

Two-thirds of the program co-ordinators (12 out of 18) from each organization were women. Overall, 12 mentors for different projects were women. Just to note, while the numbers are same – while there are some intersections, not all women mentors are co-ordinators and vica versa 🙂

Conclusion

In a short span of six years, the program has been successful increased the participation of women in FOSS projects and I feel has played a major role in not just working towards bridging the gender gap in FOSS community.

 

 

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2 comments

  1. This is an awesome write-up to see how Outreachy has grown over the years. The geographic breakdown is also insightful too – I had no idea there was such a strong representation from India either.

    This might be harder to discover based on whether all of the different participating projects have this data or not, but it would be interesting to see if the participation of women / underrepresented people generally increased after the project began participating in Outreachy.

    Like

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