A/NZ women in Open Source gain momentum


With increasing interest and influence in the open source movement, women in Australia and New Zealand are pushing their way into a normally male-dominated arena.

Recently, the Australian and New Zealand branches of Linux Chix merged their chat and instant messaging forums to maintain better communication and strengthen the scope of their influence.

The two groups, called aussiechix and nzchix, are dedicated to the advancement in computing for women in the A/NZ region. The new chat forum has been deemed anzichix by the two groups’ members.

While both groups will still keep their own subsequent chapters, aussiechix organiser Mary Gardiner hopes the merge will simply open up communication lines across the Tasman and strengthen the progress of the movement.

“Mostly we're hoping to gather women in roughly the same timezone
together,” said Gardiner.

“And we'd also like to make sure the most active volunteers from both chapters are in regular contact, as we have one major joint event each year, the LinuxChix miniconference at linux.conf.au. And, members of each chapter not infrequently visit the other country on business.”

Gardiner believes this merger mirrors the 'vibrant' Open Source scene for women in the ANZ.

Female Linux users now have a whole day to present their work at the annual linux.conf.au. Aussiechix organiser Donna Benjamin said the group has seen a sharp increase in submissions for participation in that event from women around the region.

Gardiner also pointed to local women in Open Source who serve as role models for the two groups, including Pia Waugh, director of One Laptop per Child Australia.

She hopes these recent success will further solidify a female place in the Open Source community.

“I'm very pleased with the increased numbers of women in open source in recent years and with them has come an increased sense of women in open source being a normal thing,” she said.

“I hope more Linux and Open Source women users are welcomed into the development and advocacy communities. It is also an increasingly good source of IT skills and employment, and I want more women to take advantage of that.”

A/NZ women in Open Source gain momentum
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