Open Source is the basis for many technologies we now take for granted – the Linux operating system or Kubernetes project are just two examples of the power of the open source community. In the early years of computers and programmers, collaboration and innovation went hand in hand and together they promoted “a free exchange of ideas within a community to drive creative, scientific and technological advancement” (Bigcommerce essentials, n.d.).SAP has a long-standing and significant history of contributing to open-source software and was ranked #10 among commercial contributors to open source on GitHub in the Open Source Contributor Index in 2020.
Women in Open Source
We and many others have mentioned the lack of women in the tech industry and there is a sheer amount of gender reports and studies analyzing why women are less willing to strive for a career in STEM–related jobs and how to increase diversity in the tech field. And while many companies are improving and investing in an inclusive and empowering environment for women, the reality (especially in higher level engineering teams) sometimes looks quite different.
Open source is male dominated
With the rise of open source it’s time to take a closer look at the open source community. In 2021, Trinkenreich et. al released a paper analyzing literature on women’s participation in open source software and strategies to reduce the challenges women face in the tech industry. They prove that even though OSS organizations are working towards gender diverse teams, the number of women working in open source is only slowly increasing.
“Women represent only 5.2% of the contributors in Apache Software Foundation [..] and 9.9% in Linux kernel [..], two of the largest and best-known OSS communities.” (Trinkenreich et. al. 2021: 2)
And from a dataset of ~24,000 GitHub projects with ~874,000 contributors 91% were men and only 9% women.
But where are all the women in computer science? During World War II and continuing into the 60’s women made up for most of the computer workforce but since then the number has declined to only 18%! Socio-cultural challenges, lack of peer parity, stereotyping and/ or non-inclusive communication are just a few aspects that have led women to choose different career paths. So how can we encourage female engineers and computer scientists to explore the world of open source? Because not only can open source “be an entry point for a whole range of STEM-related careers“, it is also a future-proof working field „and is a great way for developers of any level to practice programming“ (Wang, S. 2022).
- If you want to get further insights into the topic, you might as well check out the blog post about “Women in Open Source”
We need to animate more women to contribute to the open source world and join the community. Role models, mentorships and a female network can help women thrive in open source and help career development opportunities. Success inspires success. The recording to the panel discussion “Women in Open Source” hosted by our colleagues from the Open Source Program Office is now available.
This panel brought together women at SAP working with open source to share their stories and experiences. Among other topics they discussed viewpoints and ideas on how SAP can attract more female computer scientists. Speakers: Uliana Caceres, senior developer for the open-source project Luigi in Munich and Josephine Rückert, senior developer at SAP Data Intelligence in security & diagnostics in Potsdam.
If you are interested in open source at SAP, the Open Source Program Office is the central entry point for all open source related questions. Their mission is to enable all SAP teams to benefit from open source while managing the risks and challenges according to SAP compliance rules. In addition to that, they also aim to increase SAP’s open source & InnerSource engagements whenever beneficial for our company.
Landing page: https://opensource.sap.com/
Community Topic Page: SAP Open Source | SAP Community
Bigcommerce essentials (n.d.): What is open source, and why is it important? URL: https://www.bigcommerce.com/ecommerce-answers/what-open-source-and-why-it-important/ (02.06.2022)
Beneschott, B. (n.d.): Is Open Source Open to Women? URL: https://www.toptal.com/open-source/is-open-source-open-to-women (02.06.2022)
Brewer; K. (2017): How the tech industry wrote women out of history. URL: https://www.theguardian.com/careers/2017/aug/10/how-the-tech-industry-wrote-women-out-of-history (01.06.2022)
Fempel, U. (2021): Women in Open Source. URL: https://blogs.sap.com/2021/08/25/women-in-open-source/?source=social-Global-sapopensource-TWITTER-%5... (01.06.2022)
Germain, J. (2021): The rise of open source: Pandemic, Economy, Efficiency, Trust. URL: https://www.technewsworld.com/story/the-rise-of-open-source-pandemic-economy-efficiency-trust-87057.... (02.06.2022)
Trinkenreich et. al. (2021): Women’s Participation in Open Source Software: A Survey of the Literature. ACM Trans. Softw. Eng. Methodol. 1,2 (October 2021)
Wang, S. (2022): How to get more women in open source. URL: https://venturebeat.com/2022/03/07/how-to-get-more-women-in-open-source/ (23.05.2022)