The Ubuntu-Women project
"is a team functioning under Ubuntu to provide a platform and
encouragement for women to contribute to Ubuntu-Linux" Women are
generally under-represented in Free/Open Source software and this project
seeks to get more women involved in free software in general and in Ubuntu in
The project was founded in 2006, according to the project wiki and it is
currently quite active. There is a mailing
list, an IRC channel (#ubuntu-women at irc.freenode.net), a forum and even its
The project has gotten so large lately that they feel the need for more
leadership, and have asked the Ubuntu Community
Council to appoint an interim leader. Elizabeth Krumbach wrote:
"This team leader will hold this position for a minimum of 6 months,
at which point the position will be re-evaluated. She will guide the
project through formalizing a "voting team" for election of the next
leader(s) and helping us work through our RoadMap for the
Lucid Cycle." There are three candidates for interim leader: Amber
Stowe and Melissa
In addition to finding a leader, the project seeks to clarify the purpose of the IRC channel.
The channel is currently a place to hold project meetings and discuss
project business, a place for idle (off-topic) chit-chat, and everything
in between. For example, some women see the channel as a safe haven to to
go when they are being harassed elsewhere. The channel logs are not
archived and that is a point of contention. Some think that project
business discussions should be archived, but not the idle chit-chat.
Logging complaints could help to document the situation. But the logs might
also be used against the complainant, for example during a job interview.
Several options have been proposed.
One option is to split the current channel into two channels, leaving
#ubuntu-women as a social channel, which is not archived, and create a
separate channel called #ubuntu-women-project which would be a logged
channel for project business. The second option is to ban off-topic
chatter in #ubuntu-women and to create a channel specifically for complaints.
The third option is to log all chatter on the #ubuntu-women channel, and
also create a separate channel where the project leader and her team can
discuss any issues that arise. That second channel would not be publicly
logged, but the logs would be available on request by the Community
Council. There are a few that feel that creating a second channel would
fracture the project and would eventually lead to its demise, but overall
there is some consensus that a second channel is needed.
Melissa Draper posted her
concerns on her blog.
On a personal level, the idea of logging
the #ubuntu-women social banter is a real concern and worries me to no
end. #ubuntu-offtopic is not logged, and is a social channel that caters to
the 96% male/4% female audience. The prospect of logging a 50% female
social channel because some people who haven't bothered to really take the
time to understand the Ubuntu Women Project think that maybe they might
kinda one day be mentioned potentially negatively doesn't sit well in
comparison. Letting women socialise with a group half-comprised of women
under the same circumstances as men are allowed to socialise with a group
almost entirely comprised of men isn't going to ruin the whole Ubuntu
Melissa is also in
favor of separating the business side of the channel from the social
side. "I genuinely believe it will be more effective to split out
the project stuff and have #ubuntu-women-project. I believe it is harder to
move social/emotional discussion as doing so breaks the mood or potentially
The project is also working on revamping its wiki page, and continues to
increase the participation of women in the Ubuntu project. It's a place
where people can go for mentoring and encouragement. Men are welcome to
join the project, participate in the mailing list and IRC, to help and be
helped. If you have considered getting involved in Ubuntu but are not sure
where to start, check out the Ubuntu Community website. If
you need more mentoring though, Ubuntu Women might be able to help.
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