Value of Open Source
Last evening I was in Toronto for the “Value of Open Source” panel at the University of Toronto’s School of Computer Science. The panel was one of a series being organized by the Free and Open Source Software Learning Center (FOSSLC).
The evening was almost more of a conversation than a traditional panel, with moderator Andrew Ross letting the audience largely drive the discussion. But it was a lot of fun and the feedback afterward was very positive.
As an aside, Mark Surman of the Mozilla Foundation was there on the panel. Richard Dice of the Perl Foundation was in the audience. It hadn’t really occurred to me before, but the Executive Directors/Presidents of Eclipse, Mozilla and Perl Foundations are all Canadians. Small world, eh?
The most challenging audience question came from Greg Wilson of UT who wondered about the missing gender in open source: women. I’m not sure of the source of his numbers, but as I recall he said that about 1 in 7 CompSci undergrads are women, while only 1 in 200 active open source committers are. I found those numbers quite startling, although I have certainly heard about the issue before. Although I believe that we have more than 1/200 in the Eclipse committer community, I don’t think we have 1/7. (The Eclipse Foundation itself is 7/17 which is probably close to most small software companies.) Ironically, there is really no easy way for us to tell because gender is not one of the things we track in our committer records. I guess the question to our community is: should we? Is there something the Eclipse Foundation could or should be doing on this front?
Thanks to Andrew Ross and the folks at Ingres for organizing and sponsoring the event. Also, thanks to Karen Reid for hosting the evening.