Category Archives: Census

Ada Initiative Census results, part 2: Women's representation and perceived friendliness of open/tech to women

We ran the first Ada Initiative Census of open technology and culture in March 2011. We wanted to know two main things: Where women are active in open technology and culture, and how people perceive women’s representation in those communities.

Our first post on the census results simply described the respondents’ gender and the communities they were involved in. This post is about the survey respondents’ perception of friendliness and openness to women in two arenas: open technology and culture as a whole, and their primary community (e.g., open source, open data, transformative works) within that overall culture.

Structure

We asked respondents to reply to four statements with one of the answers: strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree, or undecided. In discussing the results, we usually grouped “strongly disagree” and “disagree” together, as well as “strongly agree” and “agree.” The statements were:

  • Women are well represented in open technology and culture generally.
  • Women are well represented in my primary open technology and culture community.
  • Open technology and culture (in general) provides a welcoming and supportive environment for women.
  • My primary open technology and culture community provides a welcoming and supportive environment for women.

This analysis focuses on two major distinctions: The gender of the person answering, and the whether the person was talking about open tech/culture overall or about their primary community, the specific group they spent the most time in.

Limitations

We made no attempt to get a representative sample of people in open technology and culture, so overall percentages don’t represent overall opinion with open tech/culture as a whole. If you are thinking of writing “75% of people in open source think we need more women in open source” – you can’t, at least not based on this survey.

Repeat: Responses to this survey are not likely to represent the open tech/culture community as a whole.

What this survey does tell us is, amongst approximately 2800 people interested in responding to a survey by a women in open tech/culture organization, what is the distribution of opinions? What areas are they involved in? How do responses differ based on a person’s gender? Their primary community? These are questions this survey can answer.

Representation of women in open technology and culture generally

In the first question, we asked people to respond to the statement “Women are well represented in open technology and culture generally.” This question was intended to get a feeling for the satisfaction of the respondent with the representation of women in open technology and culture overall. For example, if a person feels that the current level of involvement of women and their tasks are appropriate (estimated at 1-15% women, depending on the field), then they’d respond “Strongly agree.” Another person in the same community who felt that a more appropriate representation was at least 50% with tasks distributed similarly as in the male part of the community would respond “Strongly disagree.”

Our comments indicated that some respondents chose surprising interpretations of “well-represented” such as “the women in open technology and culture are usually intelligent and present themselves well.” But we think most people interpreted it somewhere along the lines of “Do women making up a reasonable proportion of the community and are they and their work respected?”

  Female Male Other Response
Totals
Women are well represented in open technology and culture generally. Strongly disagree 20.5%
(215)
22.6%
(170)
28.0%
(14)
21.5%
(399)
Disagree 54.7%
(573)
52.3%
(394)
46.0%
(23)
53.5%
(990)
Agree 7.1%
(74)
7.4%
(56)
8.0%
(4)
7.20%
(134)
Strongly agree 0.7%
(7)
1.5%
(11)
4.0%
(2)
1.08%
(20)
Undecided 17.0%
(178)
16.2%
(122)
14.0%
(7)
16.5%
(307)

The numbers look quite different across genders at first glance, but grouping “strongly agree” and “agree” and “strongly disagree” and “disagree” produces remarkably similar results across genders. Across all genders, 75% of respondents thought that women were not well-represented in the open source community overall, about 8% felt they were, and about 17% were undecided. Men, women, and people of other genders had very similar responses to this question, within a few percent.

Bar graph

Representation of women in my primary open technology and culture community

On the next question, we asked people the same question about the representation of women, but about their primary community instead of the open tech/culture community generally:

  Female Male Other Response
Totals
Women are well represented in my primary open technology and culture community. Strongly disagree 14.4%
(151)
26.4%
(199)
18.0%
(9)
19.4%
(359)
Disagree 32.0%
(335)
45.9%
(346)
18.0%
(9)
37.2%
(690)
Agree 18.9%
(198)
10.9%
(82)
20.0%
(10)
15.6%
(290)
Strongly agree 23.8%
(249)
4.4%
(33)
38.0%
(19)
16.2%
(301)
Undecided 10.9%
(114)
12.4%
(93)
6.0%
(3)
11.3%
(210)

On this question, the gender of the respondent strongly affects the answer. Women are far more likely to say that women are well-represented in their primary community: 43% of women vs. 15% of men. A whopping 72% of men and 46% of women don’t feel that women are well-represented in their primary community.

Our data can’t answer this question in and of itself, but from the disparity in the answers to the questions about the overall community, and the free-form comments, we believe that the women who responded have gravitated towards the communities that were most welcoming to women.

Welcoming and supportive environment for women

Next we asked if open technology and culture provided a welcoming and supportive environment for women.

  Female Male Other Response
Totals
Open technology and culture (in general) provides a welcoming and supportive environment for women. Strongly disagree 11.1%
(116)
5.7%
(43)
18.0%
(9)
9.08%
(168)
Disagree 37.7%
(395)
28.7%
(216)
44.0%
(22)
34.2%
(633)
Agree 16.3%
(171)
18.2%
(137)
10.0%
(5)
16.9%
(313)
Strongly agree 1.6%
(17)
4.9%
(37)
4.0%
(2)
3.0%
(56)
Undecided 33.2%
(348)
42.5%
(320)
24.0%
(12)
36.8%
(680)

Women were much more likely to disagree or strongly disagree, 48% of women vs. 34% of men. 18% of women and 17% of men agreed or strongly agreed. However, “undecided” was a very common response, at 37% overall, suggesting that this question was too broad to answer meaningfully for many people.

Next we asked about the respondent’s primary community, which got more definitive answers.

  Female Male Other Response
Totals
My primary open technology and culture community provides a welcoming and supportive environment for women. Strongly disagree 3.3%
(35)
2.8%
(21)
4.0%
(2)
3.1%
(58)
Disagree 11.7%
(122)
16.3%
(123)
18.0%
(9)
13.7%
(254)
Agree 37.2%
(389)
36.3%
(273)
36.0%
(18)
36.8%
(680)
Strongly agree 26.4%
(276)
10.8%
(81)
28.0%
(14)
20.1%
(371)
Undecided 21.5%
(225)
33.9%
(255)
14.0%
(7)
26.3%
(487)

Again, respondents are much more positive about their primary open technology and culture community, with 64% of women rating their primary community positively on support for women (vs. 18% of women for open tech/culture overall). Only 15% of women felt their primary community was unsupportive of women (vs. 19% of men), down from 48% for open tech/culture overall. The “undecided” response was down significantly for all, from 37% to 26%.

Bar graph

Summary

In summary, few of our respondents feel that women are well-represented in open technology and culture overall (about 8% regardless of gender). Women view open technology and culture as a whole to be less welcoming to women than men do. At the same time, women tend to view their primary community as much more welcoming to women than open tech/culture overall. We speculate this is because women are attracted to more welcoming communities and/or cause their communities to become more welcoming.

Because we collected data about what communities respondents were involved in, we have a place to start doing more research about what makes a community welcoming to women. For example, we had 487 responses from people whose primary community was an open source project they considered welcoming to women, and 144 from transformative works fandom.

Next up: Outlook for women in open technology and culture in the future.

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

Ada Initiative Census closing Tuesday March 29th

Just a reminder that the Ada Initiative Census of women’s status in open technology and culture is closing in a couple of days, at midnight Pacific time on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011. If you want to be counted, this is your chance! Thanks to everyone who has taken the census already – we have over 2,000 responses and over 50% women!

Want to help? Post an announcement in your community about the census closing. We have example text on the census web page, just add the closing date and you’re good to go.

Take the Ada Initiative Census

Today we started the Ada Initiative Census of women in open technology and culture. The survey (intended for people of any gender) asks two broad sets of questions: What open projects are you working on, and what is your opinion of how women are treated in your project and in the open community in general? The goal of the census is to periodically “take the temperature” of women in the open technology and culture community, so we can know what areas to work on and whether the Ada Initiative is making a difference for women in the community.

The survey takes only 5 minutes to do. Take the census now! The census closes on March 29th, 2011.

Want to spread the word? Check out the census page for ideas and draft text. Please especially post this on women in open source, open data, and other open “stuff” mailing lists, blogs, and other forums!