New research from the IDS Digital and Technology Cluster carried out for the Digital Impact Alliance explores the experiences of women working in open source communities that create software for the humanitarian and international development sectors.
For over two decades, free and open source software has given us the ability to empower anyone to become collective owners of impactful technology with the freedom to study, change, and share technology solutions for social good.
While open source has long been used in the ICT4D sector, the open source community still faces challenges to represent different demographics despite the movement’s aspiration of inclusiveness and global reach. Given that the codes and algorithms underpinning digital technologies inherently reflect the values and backgrounds of those who build and contribute to them, women’s underrepresentation in open source is a challenge to the community’s commitment to inclusivity.
This research report is the culmination of a thorough review of the literature, hundreds of hours of dialogue with leaders of, active participants in, and people who have turned away from open source communities. The findings of the research explore how these communities can help reflect the needs of women, provide them with the support they need to be successful and ultimately enable them to contribute to the development of more effective, equitable and inclusive open source products.