Thoughts about this sort of thing
Jo Walsh wrote:
I am in at least two minds about this sort of thing.
Of course i couldn't not sign up. The gender balance in free software communities is terrible, and terribly visible (2 or 3 women out of 60+ at the FOSS4G code sprint?), and does not appear to be improving over the decades.
But i wonder how much one can achieve by looking at the problem too directly. I think, "It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory." That is the root causes are not about women but about all of us, and not about software but about society.
However networking with other women in technology communities is very likely to be a useful or fun thing to do. There is a debian-women group, in Europe there is the /etc group which runs an annual gathering, came out of the genderchangers women-teaching-women hardware hacking community.
I wish i knew what to suggest, one thing i think would help would be to find more supported resource (financial, either direct or as organisational cross-subsidy) for activities around free software that are not just about coding. Hackers, by hacking, build up their reputation, their portfolio, their employability. Scratching one's own itch indirectly encourages others to scratch it for you. The same cannot so clearly be said for project coordinators, designers, technical writers, community organisers, and for whatever it's worth, more geeky women are doing this sort of thing than just coding.
To generalise i-don't-know-how-helpfully, women tend to be over-occupied for historic social or cultural reasons, shoulder the largest part of the burden in sustaining society. Our "free" time is ongoingly eroded by other peoples expectations and concerns, whether material or emotional. Paying us would be a good start in getting more of us to help develop potential in free software.