Free Software and Feminism by Christina Haralanova

Free and Open Source Software development is seen by many as a
technical, but also social phenomenon of the past several decades. The
FOSS community bases itself on collaborative principles which lead to
fast code evolution, a diminishing distance between users and
developers, by allowing them to work together in order to produce a
high quality code, available to all through a free licence. Even if
the FOSS community values inclusion and cooperation as basic
principles, it persists as being rather homogeneous by its social
structure. There are many challenges for women to join the FOSS
community. Research shows a one per cent participation of women in the
FOSS development projects. Even if we don't agree with this rather
reductive number, we recognise women represent a minority in FOSS.

We will propose a critical point of view of the free software
development processes, and its definition which limits software
building to writing code, by excluding other processes such as
usability, testing, documentation writing, bug finding and fixing,
training end-users etc. Women's contributions relate a lot to these
“side processes” for software development. Therefore, by ignoring
them, there is a strong possibility that women's work in FOSS remains
invisible. If software development can be assumed as a complexity of
socio-technical processes, this could also be a way to value the work
of non-programmers and non-experts in the field, including a large
number of women. Such turn into the FOSS paradigm can also make a
change in the overall perception that FOSS is too technical, and
therefore difficult to use.