Ladies That FOSS — Welcoming 35 women coders into the FOSS movement and that was just the beginning

Jens Ohlig

28. February 2017

German summary: Ladies That FOSS war ein Hackathon gerichtet an Frauen, die Interesse an Freier und Open Source Software (FOSS) haben, aber noch nicht an konkreten Projekten beteiligt sind.

by Julia Schuetze

Ladies That FOSS was an open source hackathon by Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. in October 2016 continuing as a meetup starting from March 15th 2017.

In October 2016 Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. held its first hackathon aimed at women and nonbinary coders who are interested in Free and Open Source Software. The majority of them had one thing in common: they have never contributed to the FOSS world but were eager to find out what all the fuss in FOSS is about.

The event was a “good guideline into the FOSS world, I’m much less scared now to contribute,” one participant wrote in the feedback survey.

Women coders are still a rare sight in FOSS projects. We wanted to change that and provide a space which makes it easier to start which was offline first. The contribution to FOSS projects comes with some overhead, it’s not that easy to figure out where to find the relevant information at the start or understand how and where contributors communicate. Some newcomers to coding have simply just not come across free software projects or are predominantly users instead of contributors not knowing where to start. Whatever the reason, providing a personal introduction to the projects lowers some of those barriers, so Ladies That FOSS that we knew should be about personal interaction. We aimed our communication specifically at women who are not involved in FOSS yet and met with the mentors before to discuss the code of conduct and talk about what mentoring means and how it can be most successful for both the projects and the newcomers.

To make it easier for the participants, we asked about their experience level, interests and skills to be able to match them with projects they’d like to work with on the day and give projects the opportunity to prepare tasks and instructions for specific people. Projects which got on board were: Mozilla Firefox, RIOT, MediaWiki, Wikidata, Inventaire, coala, Nextcloud, LibreOffice and Sourcefabric.

About the event, participants said afterwards that they liked the atmosphere, the one-on-one matchup process, personal communication, the direct contact with the mentors, the diversity of projects and the concrete goal for the day and that work became visible.

Indeed participants could show patches approved, changes on the project websites which could be seen by millions.


The positive feedback encouraged us to continue with the format. Predominantly, the women wanted to take part in form of a meetup where also mentors are available, so we set up a cooperation with Mozilla which is supporting the meetup and invited projects involved in Ladies That FOSS. Additionally, the meetup will allow more time to exchange, chat and meet more like-minded people – something which was missing from the more goal-oriented hackathon. For now, participants can freely access and add ideas to an etherpad which provides information about the projects involved but also tasks and installations processes as well as people who are coming to the event. We encourage everyone interested in the meetup to join and add ideas.

The next meetup is on 15th of March 2017.

Want to know more or come to the next meetup?

Learn more about what’s happening at the meetup here: https://public.etherpad-mozilla.org/p/Ladies_that_FOSS_15MARCH

Podcast about Ladies That FOSS: https://sourcecode.berlin/2016/11/03/ladies-foss/

Blogpost about the event by femgeeks: https://femgeeks.de/ladies-that-foss/

Blogpost about the event by Greta, participant and now Ladies That FOSS volunteer https://gretadoci.wordpress.com/2017/01/26/ladies-that-foss/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladiesthatfoss


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