Techno-Feminist View on the Open Source Software Development

Techno-Feminist View on the Open Source Software Development

Yuwei Lin (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-939-7.ch240
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Current debate on women in free/libre open source software (FLOSS) tends to fall into the gender stereotype of men and women when coming across to the gender issue. This article stays away from a reductionism that simplifies the gender issue in the FLOSS community to the level of a fight between men and women. Instead of splitting women from men in the FLOSS development, this analysis helps motivate both men and women to work together, reduce the gender gap and improve the disadvantaged statuses of women and a wider users’ community in the FLOSS development. More importantly, it addresses not only the inequality that women face in computing, but also other inequalities that other users face, mainly emerging from the power relationships between expert and lay person (namely, developer and user) in software design. In so doing, the issue at stake is not only to create a welcome environment for women to join the FLOSS development, but also to come up with a better way of encouraging both sexes to collaborate with each other. This article starts from how FLOSS can make a difference for today’s information society, and present some successful stories of implementing FLOSS in developing countries and rural areas to empower women and the minority. Consequently, it discusses the problem of including more women and the minority in the FLOSS development through deconstructing the myth of the programming skill.

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