For the past year and a half, the Linux kernel has participated as a project under the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW). OPW provides a three month paid internship for women (cis and trans) and genderqueer or genderfluid people. After a month-long application process, the selected OPW interns are paired with an open source mentor to work on a project. As of August 2014, there are eleven Linux kernel OPW alumni, and five interns that are just finishing up their internships.
The results from the past three OPW rounds are stunning:
- 1,092 patches accepted into the Linux kernel from OPW alumni and interns
- Lines of code added and deleted: +32,327, -193,938
- OPW was a top contributor for the 3.11, 3.12, 3.13, and 3.14 kernels
The sheer number of patches the OPW kernel interns and alumni have created is impressive. They’ve been in the LWN top kernel contributor statistics since the program started in the 3.11 kernel, and they continue to be a top contributor despite the lack of published data for the 3.15 and 3.16 kernels. Making it over the thousand patch mark is a cause to celebrate. More importantly, the OPW kernel interns and alumni have deleted six times more code than they added. They’re deleting dead code and unused drivers, and thus removing bugs from the Linux kernel.
The statistics from the code development efforts from the OPW kernel interns and alumni are impressive. However, contributing to open source isn’t just about writing code. It’s about interacting on mailing lists, reviewing code, writing documentation, answering questions, working on graphical design, maintaining project websites, and so much more.
The main goal of the OPW internship program is to create a long-term relationship between the mentee, the mentor, and their open source community, in order encourage minorities to continue to contribute to open source. How are we progressing towards the goal of creating more women kernel developers? Are the women who complete OPW kernel internships continuing to work on open source projects after their internship ends? Do they find jobs where they can be paid to work on open source?
In order to measure this, I created a longitudinal study to measure open source contributions of OPW alumni. I’ll send out the survey every 6 to 12 months, and compare the results of the program over time. The most recent survey results from our eleven Linux Kernel OPW alumni shows the program is successful at encouraging women to continue to participate in open source.
At least monthly, OPW alumni are engaging and contributing to open source communities. Most of them participate through code submission, testing, and discussion on mailing lists, IRC, or forums. However, it’s interesting to note that a few of the OPW alumni have stepped into open source leadership positions, either by reviewing contributions, maintaining a project, or by managing a team of open source contributors.
Another exciting result of OPW is that some of the kernel OPW alumni are getting paid to work as Linux Kernel developers. Lisa Nguyen is working for Linaro on ARM power management, and Teodora Băluţă is working on Android kernel drivers for Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. Three other OPW interns have gotten jobs at companies like Citrix, Oracle, and OnApp, where they’re working on proprietary projects. Many people may be disappointed that those three OPW alumni aren’t working on open source, but I’m overjoyed that these women have found jobs in the technology sector. This fact is heartening to me because many of the women that participate in OPW were working in retail before their internship. To be able to move into the technology sector is a giant step in the right direction, and I’m happy that the OPW program could be a part of that.
It’s exciting to see five of the eleven OPW kernel alumni get jobs in the technology sector. Four of the kernel OPW kernel alumni are still working their way through Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. Two OPW kernel alumni are actively looking for jobs. If you need to hire a junior kernel developer, please email the opening to sarah dot a dot sharp at intel dot com, and I will pass the job description onto our OPW alumni.
I will continue to coordinate the Linux kernel mentors and interns under the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW). The next internship period will run from December 9, 2014 to March 9, 2015. Applications for the next round open September 8th, and the Linux kernel contributions will be due October 31, 2014. (Most OPW projects have a deadline of October 22, but the kernel project application process will be on hiatus from October 10 to 20 because many mentors will be attending LinuxCon Europe, Embedded Linux Conference Europe, and Linux Plumbers Conference. Apply and get your kernel patches in early!)
If you’re interested in applying to be an OPW intern, you can find more information on how to apply on the OPW homepage, and on the OPW kernel project page. Please note that you do not have to be a student to apply to OPW. The only requirement is that you’re able to work full-time during the internship period, and that you are a woman (cis or trans), or a genderqueer or genderfluid individual. This round, we’re also running a pilot to explore opening up the project to other under-represented minorities in tech, by allowing alumni from the Ascend Project to apply. If the pilot is successful, we’ll be able to expand OPW to encourage chronically underemployed, LGBTQ, Latin@, and African American populations to participate in open source.