Electing the best candidate: the Drupal Association Board

We have been following the recent community elections for a new “At Large Director for the 2015 Board of the Drupal Association” with some interest. Two positions on the Board are elected by the community, one each year and each with a two-year term. Voting closed on 20 March and, as Drupal Association (DA) members, we had considered our options and cast our votes.

Of the 24 candidates only one identified herself as a woman and – as far as I am aware, having read each candidate's spiel – no-one identified as trans or otherly gendered. Whilst there is much greater and improving diversity of age, race and other factors in the mix of candidates, gender remains one area where there is a clear imbalance.

Having said that, the Drupal community has many more women than is typical in the wider free and open source software (FOSS) world (and perhaps trans people too - but there is no hard evidence). That broader disparity is an issue considered important enough that the UN is even funding projects to try to narrow the gap in FOSS development.

Figures for the past few years seem to vary quite a bit, but they all paint a similar picture of vastly more men being involved in the broad area of “computer science” and FOSS in particular:

Estimated 70-90% men in all computing-related work
Estimated 97-98.5% men in free and open source software development
Estimated 83% men in the Drupal community

In talking about this with my colleague Andreas, he raised one important point in relation to FOSS development: that much of this development work happens in people's free time. One reason for the drastic difference in participation could be a reflection of the fact that women are still much more responsible for caring, family and household work and may be less able to invest their free time. "I wonder how much of men's involvement in FOSS is made possible because there are women behind them that take on that role...?"

...and the winner is...
Despite this disparity – better but still huge within the Drupal community - and despite the 23 other candidates and a very low turnout ... who was elected as the newest Director? The one woman!
It may be a reflection of who we know takes responsibility and who works hard, but it also has a positive symbolic value.

So congratulations of course to Addison Berry (aka add1sun) – and a huge thanks for her work on some very well-known modules and in training and documentation - but also to the global Drupal community for having the collective wisdom to elect a candidate with a vast amount of commitment, experience and DIY spirit, and for bucking the trend of reinforcing male power in tech..

“I came to Drupal with very little technical background (I have an anthropology degree) and have journeyed through learning web development from scratch, to consulting and teaching others, to being in a leadership position”. Addison Berry

There are now five women Directors and six men on the DA board. Go Addi! You are an inspiration :)

Some interesting links and sources