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.
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
|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.|
|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)
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%.
|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.|
|Open source/free software||
|Open source hardware||
|Open geodata and maps||
|Open data (other)||
|Open standards and formats||
|Open educational initiatives (open access journals, open source curricula, etc)||
|Open/decentralised social networking (including Diaspora, StatusNet, etc)||
|Creative Commons and free culture||
|Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects||
|Open crisis response and humanitarian projects||
|Barcamps and other unconferences||
|Transformative works fandom, including fan fiction, fan art, and fan vidding||
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.