GNOME: GNOME Launches New Round of Outreach Program for Women Internships and Improves Other Outreach Initiatives

The GNOME Foundation is pleased to announce its latest round of the Outreach Program for Women Internships, for which it has been able to accept ten outstanding applicants. GNOME’s efforts are made possible by the strong sponsorship that the program has received from free software companies and organizations committed to increasing the involvement of women in technology. Google and Mozilla have each sponsored two participants, Collabora, the Free Software Foundation and Red Hat have each sponsored one participant, and the GNOME Foundation has sponsored the remaining three from its general funds. The Software Freedom Conservancy adds an eleventh intern to the Outreach Program for Women. In addition, among 29 participants, GNOME accepted five women for Google Summer of Code, who all got involved through the outreach program.

John Sullivan, the Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation which joins this year as a new sponsor, commented, “The Free Software Foundation is proud to sponsor an internship in GNOME’s Outreach Program for Women. The free software movement is about freedom for everyone, but we have a long way to go to make that a reality. This program’s past achievements in expanding the community by welcoming and retaining newcomers have moved us closer to that goal, and we can’t wait to hear this summer’s success stories.”

This is also the Conservancy’s first participation in the program. It is sponsoring its own participant for the Twisted Project. Twisted maintainer and mentor Jessica McKellar said, “Programs like this encourage free and open source communities to reflect on how to be more welcoming and supportive of people of all backgrounds. The success of the GNOME Outreach Program for Women has been tremendously inspiring; I am pleased that Twisted is joining it in tackling stereotypes in open source head-on this summer while working with our new contributors on some exciting projects.”

Previous rounds of the program have been very successful, and have helped in other mentorship and outreach efforts of the project. When GNOME started the current Outreach Program for Women two years ago, it had an initial list of nine mentors from eight projects who were eager to help with the program. Connecting newcomers with mentors who can guide them in their initial contributions proved to be the most important aspect of the outreach effort. For that reason, GNOME recently moved the list of mentors that was built up for the Outreach Program for Women to be a part of the GNOME Love initiative. There are now 37 mentors from 22 projects who any newcomer can contact any time throughout the year in this ever-growing list. The GNOME team also started a page on the Google Summer of Code wiki that contains links to such lists of mentors in many free software organizations. That page currently has 15 organizations. In addition to being a general resource to point students looking for an organization to join to, the list is also used to spread the word about Google Summer of Code and mentorship opportunities among technical women groups at many universities.

The Outreach Program for Women demonstrated that an initial contribution to the project by an applicant increases their involvement with the project, prepares them for the work during the internship period, and serves as an important selection criteria. This year, GNOME also required the students applying for Google Summer of Code in GNOME to make a contribution to the project they are applying to work on, not just to supply a link to a bug they fixed in any free software project. As a result, all successful applicants demonstrated their ability to work on the project they proposed and discussed their proposal with their potential mentor.

The GNOME community is very proud of the accomplishments of the last round’s Outreach Program for Women participants, which include the following:

    • Kasia Bondarava committed Belarusian translations for 35 GNOME modules. With her help, Belarusian translation coverage went from 67% to 88%, making Belarusian a new officially supported language. She also made a comprehensive comparison of different translator tools and advocated for better translator comments.
    • Christy Eller has tremendously improved the web development process in GNOME and created the new Friends of GNOME pages.
    • Susanna Huhtanen created comprehensive developer documentation about writing GNOME applications in JavaScript.
    • Patricia Santana Cruz added support for sharing videos and images with different online services, improved hotplug connection of camera devices, and added recorded time when making a video in the Cheese webcam application.
    • Sophia Yu ported Swell Foop game from JavaScript to Vala, completely reworking its implementation, and updated several other games to use new GNOME APIs.

The detailed accomplishments of all 11 program participants can be found at https://live.gnome.org/GnomeWomen/OutreachProgram2011/Accomplishments

Over three quarters of the women involved in the program have stayed connected to the GNOME community. Better still, Outreach Program for Women participants have a strong tradition of becoming mentors in GNOME. Luciana Fujii Pontello and Ekaterina Gerasimova mentored Google Summer of Code and Outreach Program for Women participants in previous rounds. Tiffany Antopolski, Anita Reitere and Srishti Sethi mentored Google Code-In participants. This round, Christy Eller will co-mentor a Web Development intern and Tiffany Antopolski will mentor four Documentation interns, three of whom will be working on Developer Documentation along with Tiffany. Many former participants have also presented at free software conferences and local events to raise awareness about GNOME and their work. Many have helped with the outreach program by spreading the word about it, improving the materials available about the program, and guiding new applicants.

The Outreach Program for Women is organized by Marina Zhurakhinskaya, with help and support from Karen Sandler, Rosanna Yuen and the GNOME Board of Directors. The essential work is done by the program’s mentors in helping the applicants and eventual participants contribute to their projects. For more information about the Outreach Program for Women, visit http://projects.gnome.org/outreach/women

GNOME was started in 1997 by two then-university students, Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena Quintero. Their aim: to produce a free (as in freedom) desktop environment. Since then, GNOME has grown into a hugely successful enterprise. Used by millions of people across the world, it is the most popular environment for GNU/Linux and UNIX-type operating systems. GNOME’s software has been utilized in successful, large-scale enterprise and public deployments, and the project’s developer technologies are utilized in a large number of popular mobile devices.

The GNOME community is made up of hundreds of contributors from all over the world, many of whom are volunteers. This community is supported by the GNOME Foundation, an independent non-profit organization that provides financial, organizational and legal assistance. The Foundation is a democratic institution that is directed by its members, who are all active GNOME contributors. GNOME and its Foundation works to promote software freedom through the creation of innovative, accessible, and beautiful user experiences.

Comments are closed.