Why aren't there more female free software developers out there. In my attempt to find out, I decided to write a program and see what barriers got in my way.
Most free software developers are men. Women are vastly under-represented in the world of free software. Being a woman, I wanted to know why, so I tried to do it myself. The first barrier was my inability to program in any modern computer language, so my first step was to learn a new one.
First I had to pick a language to program in.
That was easy. Why python? Because I hear that it is powerful and easy to learn, and because my husband knows it, so if I get stuck, I can ask him to proofread my code.
Next, I need a program to write.
I want to make the most feminine program I can. Why? Because the assumption is that if more women program, the kinds of programs written will be different than if only men write programs. So I want to make the kind of program that only a woman would feel the need to make. The program I chose to write was called Period tracker, PT for short.
A woman would record on the calendar the first day of her current menstrual period, and the tracker would compute the number of days since the last menstrual period. It could also predict when her periods would occur, and what dates she would be most likely to ovulate. Useful. Feminine. Embarrassing. Great!
The first thing to do, is to see if anyone else has written such a program, so I go to SourceForge the great pool of free software programs and do a search.
Searching for menstruation finds three programs: Bloody Mary (a cross-platform menstruation calendar for use on mobile phones), Mens (a similar program also in Java) and KMenCal (a menstruation calendar for KDE). So much for having an original thought in the free software world.
The most complete one is Bloody Mary, written by five software engineering students from Berlin. Of the five developers listed, only one has gone on to join any other SourceForge projects.
My instinct is to use the existing software, but that's not how a typical free software developer thinks. A developer is confident and stubborn. So what if others have made similar software, that's not the way I want it done. I'll make period tracker anyway and write it in Python.
Now all I have to do is learn Python.
To be continued...