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Of the people who dedicate themselves to Open Source, only 3% are women

Today, a large part of the software we use is developed following the Open Source philosophy. From the web, through programs that we use every day, a good part of Linux distributions and almost everything in general has been created through a collaborative effort of developers who contribute with code.

However, and as we have seen in a report published by GitHub, it is a community that has its own problems. For example, it is not inclusive, and only 3% of women participate in Open Source projects as it is collected. This report is the result of a survey conducted by the code repository.

Some 5,500 people have participated in the survey, distributed among users and developers around the world. This number corresponds only to users and developers of GitHub, but it has also surveyed 500 people using other platforms.

The demographic data that the survey has collected are very interesting. Of all the users who participated in the report, 95% were men. Only 3% identified themselves as women as mentioned above and 1% did not want to reveal their gender.

However, the demographic data goes beyond gender issues. 16% of respondents belong to ethnic minorities within the country in which they live. Likewise, 7% of the participants identify themselves as part of the LGTBQ collective.

According to media such as Wired, the Open Source community has a diversity problem that could have consequences beyond open source projects and reach the great technologies. Almost half of the respondents commented that their contributions on GitHub were key when it came to finding a job. As a result, women and ethnic minorities, being much less represented, could be left out of this labor market.

Other study data

Other data that have been collected thanks to the survey indicate different aspects that the Open Source community should improve, this time away from any question of gender, race or sexual identity. The first one is the need to create consistent documentation.

As we have already commented in other articles, good documentation is crucial for any development project. At a minimum, the code should be well commented at least so that no one gets lost. GitHub believes that this aspect should be improved, and that those who start a project should include guides on how to contribute to make their community more inclusive.

According to the published, 93% of respondents have observed incomplete or updated documentation as a persistent problem. Likewise, of all this number of users, 60% say they have never (or almost never) contributed to improving the documentation of a project.

Secondly, from GitHub, it is proposed to establish codes of conduct to avoid negative interactions between users, which they have identified as “highly harmful” for the health of any project. According to their data, at least 21% of programmers who have had a bad experience have left a project.

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