New OpenStack report recommends ways to increase women's contributions to open source development

New report highlights OpenStack's gender diversity and retention

OpenStack report recommends ways to increase women's contributions to open source development.

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Communities are strengthened through environments that encourage open dialogue and invite a diversity of ideas, experiences, and talent. Knowing this, technology companies have strived to increase diversity within their ranks; however, the numbers remain troublesome, and this disparity becomes even more pronounced within the open source world.

An Intel-sponsored report from Bitergia published last month examines gender diversity and retention within the OpenStack community, studying female contributions in both leadership and governance as well as technical projects. Promisingly, the number of women in OpenStack leadership and governance well exceeds that of women in the broader technology industry. Not surprisingly, the report highlights that women often contribute more heavily in non-technical areas. What's great to see within the report is recognition of the importance of all contributions—both technical and non-technical.

Even more important, the report outlines recommendations that forge a path to transform key insights into meaningful action. These recommendations can also be applied more broadly to help increase diversity and inclusion across open source communities. They include:

  • expanding parameters of future research to include marketing and community-building functions to more fully represent the full scope of projects;
  • investing in mentoring and shadowing programs for high-potential female leadership candidates driven by the community through their respective foundations;
  • collaborating with technical projects that have achieved the highest gender diversity and retention to better understand what is working and how to leverage these best practices across teams; and
  • studying the impact of current programs on the retention of women in the community to propagate best practices, with the recognition that both diversity and inclusion are equally important.

This report—its insights and recommendations—form the basis for a session that I am moderating at the Open Source Summit in Los Angeles, Diversity & Inclusion: On the Path to Increasing the 10%. We'll explore these numbers in more detail and discuss concrete actions we can collectively take to strengthen our communities by encouraging diversity of thought, experiences, and talent. We can, and must, continually strive for more.

Do you have ideas about the study specifically or diversity in general? Subscribe to the Women of OpenStack and Women in Open Source ( mailing lists. We would love to hear from you!

About the author

Nicole Huesman - For over 17 years, Nicole has applied her aptitude in storytelling to the technology industry—helping shine a light on the importance and impact of the incredible feats of her engineering colleagues. She dove into the world of open source six years ago, and quickly became a strong advocate—from the embedded market to the cloud. She is particularly passionate about cultivating inclusive communities that welcome diverse perspectives and invite intelligent, thoughtful debate to create the...