Standing Out in the Crowd

Location: Exhibit Hall 3
Average rating: ***..
(3.79, 43 ratings)

What’s it like to be a woman in an open source project that’s 99% men? What’s it like to be a woman in a project that’s 75%… women?

Kirrily Robert, who has worked on both kinds of projects, will talk about the differences, and what we can learn from majority-female open source projects.

Photo of Kirrily Robert

Kirrily Robert

Kirrily Robert has been involved in open source software since 1993, as a Linux user, Perl developer, and community leader and advocate. She is best known for her work in the Perl community, where she has been a CPAN contributor, author, speaker, and trainer. She has worked extensively in the Open Source and Internet industries since the mid 90s, as a developer, sysadmin, and community manager.

Kirrily currently resides in San Francisco, where she works for Metaweb Technologies as Community Director for, an open, creative-commons-licensed, API-accessible, structured database of the world’s information.

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Picture of Federico Lucifredi
Federico Lucifredi
08/02/2009 3:04pm PDT

Your project suggestions are great, very applicable and directly useful stuff when you manage a project! Well done!

The elitist culture of most projects keeps people out… and that’s not necessarily minorities or women, it is “us” (insiders) vs “them” (outsiders, newbies). I agree with you… why would you pass on perfectly good contributors you can recruit by being a little thoughtful and maintaining a nice environment? Great keynote!

Picture of Chris Messina
Chris Messina
07/29/2009 5:43am PDT

Thanks for this talk, Kirrily. I’m glad that OSCON gave you the chance to speak out on this issue — and to frame it in a much wider context.

I also appreciate the affirmative steps that you laid out for action — even if there are defensive reactions to your point, I think others will find that kind of information useful.

Picture of Liz Henry
Liz Henry
07/25/2009 2:09am PDT

Thanks for this talk, Kirrily! And for promoting the Organization for Transformative Works and Dreamwidth in your examples—both are such great projects.

Picture of Timothy Ace
Timothy Ace
07/23/2009 9:57am PDT

This talk was very illuminating. I’ve only recently started to get more involved with the open source community, but didn’t realize the discrimination that was so abundant. I’d hope that those who attended were paying attention and that the situation improves.

Picture of Kirrily Robert
Kirrily Robert
07/23/2009 7:22am PDT

Edna, I’m so sorry to hear that. I know it’s a common experience out there on the tradeshow floor. Hopefully some of them will read this and it might make them stop and think.

Edna Wigderson
07/23/2009 7:02am PDT

I talked to a vendor after your talk. He talked and made eye contact with the male friend I was with, never once looked at me…

Cole Tuininga
07/23/2009 6:23am PDT

While the talk as a whole made me think, I found the suggestions portion to be particularly useful. Thanks for the talk.

  • Intel
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  • Google
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Facebook
  • Gear6
  • Kaltura
  • Liferay
  • MindTouch
  • Novell, Inc.
  • Open Invention Network
  • Rackspace Cloud
  • Schooner Information Technology
  • Silicon Mechanics
  • Symbian Foundation
  • Twilio
  • WSO2
  • Yabarana Corporation

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