They take to it later, but when women FLOSS, they mean it

Hours of fun: Free/Libre Open Source Software draws 'em in

Despite an extreme gender gap in the free/Libre and open-source software community - even more extreme than in general IT - women who work full time in FLOSS stick with it longer than men, according to a recent report.

The gap between men and women in the IT industry is well known. The report, "Women in Free/Libre/Open Source Software: The situation in the 2010s", estimates that women make up 25 to 30 per cent of the IT workforce. For women working in free and open-source software, however, this percentage drops dramatically to two to five per cent.

By analysing results of an online survey completed by 2,183 people in 2013, the researchers found that 14.77 per cent of women dedicated 40 hours or more to FLOSS projects compared to 12.01 per cent of men.

The report also found that women were more likely to join FLOSS at a later age of 28 compared to men at 24. Over half of the male participants started dabbling with FLOSS during university, but their female counterparts were more likely to start when they were already professionally active in IT.

Whilst the peak age for both men and women participating is at 21, the number of men still working on FLOSS in their early 30s amounts to a third of those in the field in their 20s, whilst the number of women in their early 30s are 70 per cent more numerous than those in their 20s.

The report also uncovered some trivia, such as the fact that both genders were unlikely to have children; over 65 per cent of male FLOSS workers do not have children, though the figure jumps to over 80 per cent for female FLOSSers.

Compared to results released in a similar report, FLOSSPOLS, 10 years ago, women's numbers are growing in FLOSS, which the authors say is a fairly recent phenomenon - 38.54 per cent of the women surveyed started in the last four years, compared to only 18.75 per cent of the men. ®

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