Geek Feminism Wiki


On 24 Aug 2009, the Free Software Foundation announced that it planned to hold a mini-summit on Women in Free Software. From the announcement:

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Monday, August 24th, 2009 -- On September 19, 2009, Deborah Nicholson of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), Stormy Peters of the GNOME Foundation and Hillary Rettig, free software activist and author of The Lifelong Activist, will gather a small group of women activists, thinkers, and scholars to identify strategies and initiatives that will foster sustained participation by women in the movement.

The event announcement was very widely distributed, but the event itself only had nine invitees. It was not open to the wider community to attend.

The event was seen by some as a response to the bad publicity of the EMACS virgins joke made by Richard Stallman (founder of the FSF).

LWN Article[]

LWN re-posted the FSF's press release the same day.

Bruce Perens, a prominent member of the Open Source community, commented (amongst other things):

What I meant was that there are more women who hold technical jobs than there are women who so love the technology that they will work on it whether they get paid or not. That seems to be an especially male thing.

The comments thread also contains a canonical example of dismissing / devaluing women's contributions here.

2009 caucus[]

The first meeting of what became known as the "Women's Caucus" was held in 2009.

Women attending included:

Participants are listed on the FSF wiki [1].

Proposed initiatives[]

  • Recommendation that FSF replace a sexist anti-Apple-DRM sticker
  • A day-long summit at the LibrePlanet conference
  • A speaker bureau
  • A women's couch-surfing network to defray costs of travel associated with conferences
  • Partner with a youth organisation (see Girl Scouts initiative below)
  • Find funding to get computers for young girls
  • Mentoring program

Event reports[]

2010 caucus[]

A second meeting was held in mid 2010.