Women are underrepresented in Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) development, even
as compared with the number of women studying Computer Science in
colleges around the world and with the number of women employed in
proprietary software development. While the 2017 GitHub survey
showed that participation of women in FOSS is still extremely low at 3%, Outreachy has been a major factor in increasing participation of women in communities that participate. For example, percent of women Linux kernel authors
rose from 5% in 2005 to 9.9% in 2016, with a marked increase in 2013 when the kernel joined Outreachy. Outreachy also encourages women who are students interested in coding projects to apply for Google Summer of Code, and it played a role in increasing participation of women in Google Summer of Code from 7.1% in 2011 to 11.4% in 2017.
The diversity data
for the U.S. released by many tech companies shows that many of them
only have 1-3% Black and 2-4% Hispanic employees in technical roles,
while the population of the U.S. is 13% Black and 17% Hispanic. We don't
have any data like this for free software participation, but we can
tell there is a lack of racial and ethnic diversity at conferences we
important that we reach more people with the information that the FOSS
community is (by and large) mature and friendly, and that contributing
to FOSS is valuable for both social and professional reasons. In this
way, we are growing the community and improving our ability to reach
even more people.
We know from the 2017 GitHub survey
that "women are also more likely than men to seek out help directly (29% vs 13%) from people they already know well (22% vs 6%), rather than ask for help from strangers in a public forum or channel." It can be intimidating to submit contributions and get feedback on public forums. Outreachy provides a gentle introduction to FOSS by providing mentors who can guide applicants through making their first public contributions during the application period. Then selected interns work remotely with the same mentor during the three month internship.
participating in the program, applicants and interns develop a good understanding of
the power of FOSS and skills necessary to continue contributing to it. Outreachy provides a collaborative environment in which newcomers from
underrepresented backgrounds can get help working on their first
contributions and a focused opportunity for them to dedicate a full-time
effort to learning and contributing to FOSS.
Why Sponsor Outreachy?
The program attracts many motivated and talented
applicants. Most of our interns have had their work included in the
software releases, with some of them completing major features during
their internships. About half of the program participants stay involved
with the organization they worked with past their internship, and 142 from among 407 past participants accomplished one or more of the following:
The outreach efforts like this one also result in the improvements for all newcomers. For example, the mentors list
that GNOME started with 9 mentors for the first round of the Outreach
Program for Women is now a general resource that contains over 40
mentors. GNOME also improved how it engages Google Summer of Code
students with the community based on its Outreach Program for Women
experience, by requiring them to work with mentors on an initial
contribution during the application period and by incorporating the
required blog posts about their work on Planet GNOME. Making the
community a friendly place for underrepresented people also makes it
such for all newcomers.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: Are corporate sponsors required to help run the internship program?
No. The Outreachy application process, intern selection coordination,
communication with mentors, and payments to interns are all handled by
Q: When do you bill for sponsorship?
For the May to August round, sponsors are billed in May. For the
December to March round, sponsors are billed in December. If you have a
specific quarterly deadline, Outreachy can bill earlier or later.
Outreachy general fund sponsors can be billed any time of the year.
Billing will be handled through our parent organization, the Software
Q: Who pays the interns?
A: The Outreachy parent organization, the Software Freedom Conservancy, handles payments to interns.
Q: Are Outreachy interns employees or interns of the corporate sponsors?
A: No. Outreachy interns are considered contractors of the Software Freedom Conservancy during their internship.
Q: We have a company internship program. How does that work with Outreachy internships?
Outreachy internships are completely separate from any other internship
program. Outreachy organizers find FOSS communities that are willing to
provide mentorship and use corporate sponsorship to fund the
Q. If I'm a corporate sponsor, do I have to provide a mentor for the internship program?
A: No. While
employees from many corporate sponsors mentor for Outreachy, it's not
required for corporate sponsors to provide either mentors or internship
project ideas. FOSS communities generally provide their own mentors and
project ideas. If a sponsor does have an internship idea and a mentor,
they should review the community guidelines
Q: If I sponsor a specific FOSS community and that community doesn't find an intern, what happens?
Sometimes FOSS communities don't have enough applicants, or their best
applicant accepts another opportunity. Outreachy will try to encourage applicants towards communities that do not have enough applicants but we cannot guarantee that a community will find a suitable intern. We will use our best efforts to work with the sponsor and use the funds for that particular community or another that the sponsor prefers for two years, after which we'll use them for any Outreachy activity.
Q: How does the travel stipend work? Can interns use it to go to a company event?
The $500 Outreachy travel stipend is for intern travel to technical
conferences with FOSS content or to events where interns
can network with their mentor and members of their FOSS community.
Company events may meet our travel stipend guidelines if they allow the intern to work with their mentor or other community contributors.
Q: What happens if an intern doesn't use their travel stipend?
A: Travel stipends can be used for travel initiated
within a year after the beginning of the internship. Unused travel
allowances will be added to the Outreachy general funds.
Q: Did you used to be called something else?
Outreachy was started in 2010 by the GNOME Project as the Outreach Program for Women
(OPW). The name was changed in 2015 when the program was moved to Software Freedom Conservancy as its non-profit home with a vision to expand to include people from other groups underrepresented in tech. In 2006, the GNOME Project ran a one-time Women's Summer Outreach Program, which was the predecessor of OPW.
Q: Are you still associated with GNOME?
GNOME has been an Outreachy mentoring community throughout the
Outreachy's history. After Outreachy moved under our current non-profit home, Software Freedom Conservancy, GNOME continued to host
some Outreachy resources, including our website, wiki, application
system, and IRC channel. We thank GNOME for their support of the