Census, March 2011: Demographic breakdown of responses

We ran the first Ada Initiative Census of open technology and culture in March 2011. We aimed to find out where the women are, and how they perceive their community. We're ready to share the results of this, our first project under the Ada Initiative banner.

In this post, we'll set the scene with a simple set of response breakdowns.

Number of participants

The total number of respondents was not quite 3000 people: 2844. We don't have a good sense of how many people would identify with the term "member of the open technology and culture community", but consider that Wikipedia alone had 10411 "very active" editors in July 2010: a true census of this space at any given moment could possibly involve some hundreds of thousands of people.

The total number of people who completed the census was 1799 (63.3%), but SurveyMonkey's "completed" statistic means that they answered every question, including optional ones. The number of people who did not complete required questions isn't known.

Number of participants by gender

Respondents were required to state their gender identity in one of three categories: "Female", "Male", "Other". Slightly more than half identified as female and a further 2.8% as other.

Your gender
  answered question 2,844
  Response
Percent
Response
Count
Female
55.3% 1,574
Male
41.8% 1,190
Other
2.8% 80

Number of participants by field

We asked people what fields within open technology and culture they were involved in. Of the people who answered this question, 80.8% said they were involved in open source. It's not surprising that the Ada Initiative, whose founders have long experience in open source, is best able to reach that community. Open source (and related tags like free software) also have a long history of encouraging participants to identify with a community of developers and users. It's impossible to say from this data to what extent each of these factors came into play:

  • there are simply more people in the open source community relative to (some of) the others
  • people in the open source communities are especially ready and happy to identify with "open technology and culture"
  • the limits of the promotion of this census
Bar graph number of participants by field (top 11 fields)

Census: number of participants by field (top 11 fields)

Please tell us what areas of open technology and culture youre involved in, and whether you do it as paid work or unpaid. Check as many answers as you like.
  answered question 1,977
  Paid Unpaid Response
Count
Open source/free software 49.0% (775) 80.8% (1,279) 1,582
Open source hardware 22.3% (63) 86.9% (246) 283
Open geodata and maps 22.1% (81) 84.5% (310) 367
Open government 28.4% (84) 78.4% (232) 296
Open data (other) 32.3% (147) 81.3% (370) 455
Open standards and formats 37.4% (212) 78.8% (447) 567
Open educational initiatives (open access journals, open source curricula, etc) 32.8% (209) 79.2% (505) 638
Open/decentralised social networking (including Diaspora, StatusNet, etc) 9.1% (40) 95.2% (420) 441
Creative Commons and free culture 15.2% (157) 92.7% (956) 1,031
Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects 8.0% (68) 95.6% (816) 854
Other wikis 18.2% (153) 90.1% (758) 841
Open crisis response and humanitarian projects 14.4% (34) 91.1% (215) 236
Barcamps and other unconferences 16.3% (76) 91.4% (426) 466
Online/digital activism 10.3% (83) 95.4% (769) 806
Remix/mashup culture 10.7% (37) 93.9% (325) 346
Transformative works fandom, including fan fiction, fan art, and fan vidding 4.7% (22) 96.4% (454) 471
Maker/DIY community 9.3% (55) 94.9% (559) 589
Hacker spaces 8.7% (33) 94.2% (356) 378
Coworking 30.5% (79) 83.0% (215) 259
Other (please tell us what we've missed)
 
125

Number of participants by primary field

Here the penetration of the census into open source really shows: more than half of people replying identified it as their primary field. Transformative works fandom was the only other primary field to break 10%.

Bar graph of number of participants by primary field (top 11 fields)

Bar graph of number of participants by primary field (top 11 fields)

Which of these is your primary field or community? That is, the one in which you do most work, spend most time, or have the greatest interest.
  answered question 1,977
 
skipped question
867
  Response
Percent
Response
Count
Open source/free software
53.5% 1,057
Open source hardware
0.9% 18
Open geodata and maps
0.6% 11
Open government
0.9% 18
Open data (other)
1.3% 26
Open standards and formats
1.4% 28
Open educational initiatives (open access journals, open source curricula, etc)
4.6% 91
Open/decentralised social networking (including Diaspora, StatusNet, etc)
1.1% 22
Creative Commons and free culture
3.6% 71
Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects
3.6% 72
Other wikis
0.7% 14
Open crisis response and humanitarian projects
0.5% 9
Barcamps and other unconferences
0.8% 15
Online/digital activism
4.0% 80
Remix/mashup culture
0.5% 10
Transformative works fandom, including fan fiction, fan art, and fan vidding
11.0% 217
Maker/DIY community
3.3% 65
Hacker spaces
3.1% 61
Coworking
0.6% 11
Other
4.1% 81

Coming up next: the big question, perceptions of participation of and attitudes to women in these communities.

Disclaimer: the Ada Initiative Census was a self-selected survey of self-identified participants in "open technology and culture", conducting in March 2011. Participants were recruited largely through advertisements in relevant women's groups (eg LinuxChix) and through participant's social networks. These results have substantial limitations, and in particular cannot be used to draw inferences by comparison to other surveys with different methodology, such as the FLOSSPOLS gender survey results.

Want to see a follow up to the 2006 FLOSSPOLS survey of the distribution of gender of the open source community? We do too! It's one of the programs the Ada Initiative will run if we get enough funding. Help us get started by contributing to the Seed 100 fund-raising campaign.

The Ada Initiative Seed 100 campaign: donate in June to support women in open technology and culture