Red Hat’s open source project, Fedora, has launched Fedora women, a forum and mailing list, to encourage female developers to participate in its community.
According to the project’s website, its mission is to provide a virtual space, where women in the Fedora Community can work together or socialize. The project attempts to bring some balance to a community that is made up of mostly men and it’s not intended to separate women from the rest of the community, but rather to bring them closer to it by making sure they are included in the community voice.
“A large portion of the Fedora user base is made up of women. They are often under-represented within the community, with many people not even realizing how big a share of the community they are. The Fedora Women program aims to improve that representation and to provide a forum for the women of the Fedora community,” the group said.
According to Cnet.com’s news section other open-source projects have tried to encourage more women to get involved in programming. In 2005, the Apache Software Foundation set up a new mailing list in the hope of increasing the participation of women in its open-source projects, while in 2004, Debian set up the Debian Women group to encourage the participation of women in development.
As the news about Fedora’s project for women spread on the Internet, different reactions have been recorded. One reader on the technology Web site Slashdot, said: “If women, or men, want to develop FOSS, then that’s great. If they don’t, then encouraging them to do so…really won’t help. I suspect that a number of women have tried to get involved, but been repulsed by the community.”
We cannot know for sure if Fedora’s project for women will be successful, but one thing is for certain: women themselves will decide the outcome of this project and any other similar ones.