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MS Final Oral Examination - Claire Gilbertson


Tuesday, August 30, 2011 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Gender and Participation in Early Stages of the Free/Open Source Software Joining Process
Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is a powerful development paradigm for creating software. Increasingly more FOSS projects, like Firefox and Android, are integrated into mainstream technology. It is important that FOSS projects serve its diverse user base well. Several surveys have found that existing FOSS communities are very homogenous populations and made up of mostly men. There are significantly fewer women participating in FOSS when compared to the percentage of women in computing in general.

FOSS communities have a large amount of turnover and must have a continual influx of new developers to keep the project alive and thriving. When a new developer wants to learn more about a project, report a bug or has a question about the project, he or she typically posts a message on a mailing list. Mailing lists are the primary form of communication with FOSS communities, and are the first place where new users interact with the existing community.

Building on previous research, we examined one of the first steps of joining a FOSS project, subscribing to a mailing list, and studied posting statistics of females during the early stages of the process. In particular, we explored 6 FOSS projects: Buildroot, Busybox, Jaws, Parrot, Uclibc, and Yum. We found that 8.27% of FOSS list subscribers are women and that significantly fewer posters (6.63%) are women. Women lurked on a list slightly less than men before replying, and remained subscribed for slightly less time to a mailing list.

Major Advisor: Carlos Jensen
Committee: Ronald Metoyer, Paul Paulson
GCR: Adam Branscum


Kelley Engineering Center (campus map)
1114
Shannon Thompson
1 541 737 7234
shannon.thompson at oregonstate.edu
Sch Elect Engr/Comp Sci
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