Apache encourages female coders

A 'welcoming environment' is being created to spur more women into get involved in Apache projects

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is hoping to increase the participation of women in its open source projects by setting up a new mailing list.

Jean Anderson, who works on the Apache Derby database, said on Monday that the list would provide "a supportive, encouraging forum to help women become more involved in ASF projects".

"The list is open to all genders — you might be a woman who wants to become more involved or you might be someone who would just like to help create a welcoming environment," said Anderson in a mailing list posting.

Open source projects tend to have many more male developers than female developers; this is partly a reflection of the under-representation of women in software development as a whole, but other issues, such as sexism and aggressive language on mailing lists and forums, have been known to deter women from getting involved.

The free Linux distribution Debian set up a group last year to encourage the participation of women. Helen Faulkner, a member of Debian Women, told ZDNet UK last year that the group offers advice to women on a variety of topics from how to install Debian to how to write a bug report. It is also encouraging Debian to become more welcoming to women by flagging instances of sexism.