Widening Participation in Open Source Communities – London 22/10/2015

This year’s BCS OSSG AGM will be followed by a session on Widening Participation in Open Source Communities.

The event will be held on Thursday 22nd October at BCS HQ – 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.

The BCS OSSG AGM  is for BCS OSSG members only – but the following evening event is open to all BCS members and non-members. Booking is required.

The timetable for the evening will be:

  • 17:00 – Registration & refreshments
  • 17:30 – AGM (BCS OSSG members only)
  • 18:00 – Widening Participation talks
  • 20:00 – Sandwiches + Networking

Gender, Representation and Online Participation: A Quantitative Study

Venus symbolOnline communities are flourishing as social meeting web spaces for users and peer community members.

Different online communities require different levels of competence for participants to join, and scattered evidence suggests that females and minorities as participants can be underrepresented. Additional anecdotal evidence suggests that women withdraw from unfriendly online communities.

Owing to the limited amount of empirical evidence on the matter, this talk presents a quantitative study of the phenomenon, in order to assess the representation and social impact of gender in online communities. This study positions itself within recent and focused international initiatives, launched by the European Commission in order to encourage women in the field of science and technology.

Focusing on technical support networks around web content management tools (e.g. Drupal and WordPress) and on questions & answers websites (e.g. StackOverflow), this paper unearths a spectrum of online communities, in which women participate to various degrees.

Research highlights:

  • Anecdotal evidence suggests that sexism or the wrong incentives pervade specific online communities
  • We studied three online communities: StackOverflow, Drupal and WordPress
  • We compared levels of participation and engagement of women and men
  • We found ‘women-friendly’ communities, where gender representation is unequal, but engagement is similar across gender
  • We also found ‘women-unfriendly’communities, where gender representation is also unequal, and women engage less than men


Update: the slides for the talk are now available.


About the speaker: Dr Andrea Capiluppi joined the Department of Computer Science at Brunel University London (UK), as a Lecturer in Software Development in May 2012. Between 2009 and 2012 he was at University of East London, working as a Senior Lecturer in Software Engineering. Before that, he worked as a Senior Lecturer and at University of Lincoln, between 2006 and 2009.

Andrea’s research and teaching interests focus on Software Evolution and Maintenance, as well as the construction, evaluation and maintenance of Social Networks. Andrea is mostly interested in the use of open technologies and in understanding how they can improve learning and teaching as well as the production of software and other artefacts.

What role for Professional Societies?

Professor Cornelia Boldyreff, the chair of the OSSG, will be speaking on the role of Professional Societies in encouraging women into the T of STEMM and how adopting a Code of Conduct for professional meetings can remove potential barriers for participation by under-represented groups.


Update: the slides for the talk are now available.


Diversity in Open Technology Design & Creative Industries

Paula Graham is Director of Fossbox, a social innovation CIC specialising in design through research and digital information systems. Collaborating with universities, museums, digital arts organisations and NGOs, Fossbox brings together people from a variety of disciplines and organisations to spark creativity and innovation.

Paula has been advocating diversity in open technology since 2003 and founded the Flossie network in 2010 for women interested in using open source as coders, artists and social innovators. She is a Fellow of Kingston FADA and Policy/External Relations Manager at the Council for Higher Education in Art & Design.


Update: the slides for the talk are now available.