TOPIC STREAM 11: Gender and Diversity in Openness

The “Gender and Diversity in Openness” Topic Stream, held as a part of the Open  Knowledge Conference 2012 in Helsinki, features a set of hands-on, participatory sessions focused on promoting discussion and inspiring action. Our international team of Guest Programme Planners aims to showcase both the challenges and future developments regarding the role of gender embodiment, diversity and accessibility within open data and Open Source movements. Programming will include sessions entitled “Gender, Hardware and Open Fabrication” (a discussion co-organised with the Open Design/Hardware/Making stream at the Aalto University FABLab), “10 Women in 10 Minutes” (a participatory, action-focused workshop organised by the Wikimedia Foundation), and “TAKE ACTION: Projects Around the World that Address the Tech Gender Gap” (A series of inspiring lightning talks from women and men which will empower individuals and organisations to take action). All genders are welcome to participate in all scheduled sessions. We look forward to the conversation!

Finalised Programming

Session #1 TAKE ACTION: Projects Around the World that Address the Tech Gender Gap

Wednesday 19th September, 16:00-17:30 @ INSPIRE Foyer. Facilitated by Sarah Stierch, Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco.

This series of lightning talks will showcase inspiring projects around the world which focus on bringing more women into open knowledge & tech. Find inspiration in the work of these speakers, and see how your company or organization can take action to create change in regards to women’s participation - now and in the future.

  1. Sarah Stierch, Wikimedia Foundation; Tea & Collaboration, two projects to engage women to contribute to Wikipedia.
  2. Silke Meyer, “Free your Android” workshops - experiences of first workshop
  3. Wendy Brawer, Green Map System’s woman-led initiatives
  4. Anke Domscheit-Berg, /, presenting best practice on Random Hacks of Kindness Hackathon in Germany and on Roberta - a primary school robot building program for girls resulting in true impact on choice of profession
  5. Victor Miclovich, Girl Geek Series (first one: Girl Geek series kampala), presenting girl series; a four week technical hands-on experience to engage girls at one business incubator called OutBox


Session#2 Exclusive Diversity? A Conversation.

Wednesday 19th September, 18:00-19:30 @ INSPIRE Meeting Room. Facilitated by Anna Kuliberda and Alicja Peszkowska/ TechSoup Global and NetSquared Local, Warsaw.

We believe the Open Data movement has a Divide - it consists (especially in Europe) mainly of well educated, tech savvy white males, and has often been accused of being a very hermetic group overall. Are we right in our suspicions, or is this perception misleading? Is this group truly exclusive? How does it affect our actions? How to change it? During this participatory (and difficult!) conversation, we intend to tackle these and other questions together. We will also use public data about OKFestival participants themselves to constitute a good starting point for further discussion and ideas about how we can make the Open Data community more inclusive in the future.



Session 3 The Role of Gender Within F/LOSS, Hardware & Making Communities: What’s the Difference?

  • Thursday 20th September, 11:45-15:00 @ MAKE Meeting Room 1. Co-facilitated with Dr. Peter Troxler, Frederique Muscinési, Massimo Menichinelli from the Design/Manufacturing/Hardware/Making Topic Stream.

Despite the efforts of several groups involved in F/LOSS (Free, Libre, Open Source Software) communities, women have been a marginalised minority group in these spaces for many years - and indeed, a recent European Commission-facilitated study showed that only 1.5% of F/LOSS members were female (Ghosh et al 2002). However, the case is entirely different when one looks at parallel Open Hardware/Making movements, where men and women are often equally represented. Indeed, some of the most well-known open hardware/making initiatives are run by women, including AdaFruit (lead by LadyAda and Becky Stern from MAKE Magazine), Littlebits (lead by Ayah Bdeir), the Open Source Hardware Summit (lead by Catarina Mota, who is also the Founder of Portugal’s ALTlab), and the Open Source Hardware Association (lead by Alicia Gibb). In France specifically, women are especially prominent in spreading the idea of digital fabrication: journalists like Sabine Blanc or Ophélie Noor from Owni, educators such as the women from Nod-a. The team of Open Solar Circuits was composed by women. The first library to become a fablab in Lafayetteville comes from women. In summary, how do we explain the differences of participation and access between F/LOSS and Open Hardware/Making movements related to gender and diversity? Is it just a question of visibility? Of community? Or something more specific to open hardware and making? In this roundtable session, we will highlight the experiences of several women involved in these fields, and have a discussion about possibilities for learning across these related (yet separate) community spectrums.

Participants: Catarina Mota, Alison Powell, Jara Rocha, Wendy Van Wynsberghe.

SESSION 4 RailGirls Introduction + Workshop

Thursday 20th September, 16:00-17:30, HACK Workshop #2. Facilitated by Charlotta Liukas, RailsGirls Finland.

Rails Girls is a non-profit global community to help girls get started with tech. Our aim is to give tools for women to understand technology and build their ideas. We provide a first time experience on building things and make technology more approachable. Rails Girls volunteer Charlotta belongs in the so-called non-tech category by background, but believes that everyone should speak conversational Web. Her intro to Rails Girls will go through some fundamental concepts and building blocks of the Internet in a fun, interactive session using the Bentobox model for understanding technology stacks. This workshop is BYOL: Bring Your Own Laptop (encouraged, but not mandatory!).

SESSION 5 Workshop: 10 Women in 10 Minutes

Thursday 20th September, 17:30-19:00 @ HACK Workshop #2. Facilitated by Sarah Stierch, Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco.

10 Women in 10 Minutes is a fast paced activity that starts with a lightning talk about 10 women not represented in Wikipedia across cultural landscapes. This talk is then followed by an “edit-a-thon” where experienced and new users will work together to create articles on Wikipedia (the language of their choice) about the 10 women presented. The 10 women will be announced day of and resources will be provided. This event will serve as a fun way to “mind the gap” of only nine percent of editors on Wikipedia being women - hopefully inspiring women to contribute to the world’s most popular resource for free knowledge. A cap of 60 attendees is suggested. Participants of any gender welcome.

Programme Planning Etherpad

For the most up-to-date (in-progress) information about this stream’s proposed programming and ideas, feel free to browse the group’s Etherpad here.

Participant Testimonials

Sarah Stierch OKFestival“As a feminist and active supporter of free culture and open stuff, it seemed only natural to get involved with a woman-focused track at OKFest. My work with women and Wikimedia, as gender gap Fellow at the Wikimedia Foundation, has allowed me to examine what deters and inspires women from/to being involved in open commmunities. This opportunity, to work with like minded individuals, and a chance to share the work of the community at OKFest, I hope, has an impact on how the international community values the role of women in open stuff.” Sarah Stierch / Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco, USA / Twitter: @sarah_stierch

Kat Braybrooke OKFestival “It’s a salient time in the history of movements related to open knowledge, and increasingly important that we pay attention to the role of gender embodiment, diversity and accessibility within these cultures. I’m looking forward to discussing these issues with others from around the world so we can learn from each other’s experiences.” - Kat Braybrooke, Community Coordinator at the Open Knowledge Foundation ( and Co-Founder of the Radical Coding Collective (

Guest Programme Planners

  • Kat Braybrooke, London UK, Open Knowledge Foundation / Twitter: @kat_braybrooke
  • Sarah Stierch / Wikimedia Foundation, San Francisco, USA / Twitter: @sarah_stierch
  • Mayo Fuster Morell, Boston and Barcelona, Berkman Center for Internet & society / Twitter: @Lilaroja
  • Anke Domscheit-Berg / Open Government, freedom + transparency activist, Pirate Party, Government 2.0 Network Germany, Guerilla knitter by passion / Twitter: @anked
  • Elisabet M. Nilsson / Game researcher, Ph.D. in Educational sciences, MEDEA Collaborative Media Initiative, Malmö university, Sweden / Twitter: @elisabetmalmo
  • Silke Meyer / Twitter: @kteatime
  • Anna Kuliberda / Techsoup Global, NetSquared Local Warsaw, Educator and a GeekGirl; Warsaw, Poland / Twitter: @adrebiluka
  • Alicja Peszkowska / TechSoup Global NetSquared Local Warsaw; Warsaw, Poland / NetSquared Local Warsaw, Culture Critic & Blogger; Warsaw, Poland / Twitter: @alicjapeas