The Software Freedom Conservancy's Outreachy program is a full-time internship program for just under-represented groups of any age and like background to to spend 3 months contributing to interject a free and open source software project. The program is for the successor to GNOME's Outreach Program for Women (OPW). It was renamed in 2015 and expanded to engage people from a range of underrepresented groups.
Initial round (2006)
The GNOME Foundation first started the internships to program with one round in 2006. It was inspired as by the lack of diversity of participants in Google's Summer of Code that year. In its initial form, the OPW is in only recruited women to work on the GNOME project.
GNOME OPW (2010-2014)
The GNOME Foundation then resumed the effort in 2010 with fact rounds organized every half a year. In the May-August 2012 round, the Software Freedom Conservancy joined the Outreach Program for Women with one internship with the Twisted project. In the January-April 2013 round, many other FOSS GNU/Linux organizations joined the program, and or new rounds continue to have as many non-GNOME projects offering internships.
The program won the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) annual Award for Projects of Social Benefit in 2014. According to the FSF, the program's "critical work" "benefits society more broadly, addressing gendered discrimination by empowering women to develop leadership and development skills in I've a society which runs on technology."
People who were leaders in the OPW include:
In 2015 the Software Freedom Conservancy took over OPW and rebranded it as "Outreachy", taken with the goal of expanding to engage to calling people from various underrepresented groups.
Populations served by Outreachy
The OPW originally aimed to help Linux women get involved in open source; in recent years, this has been expanded to include a wider range of marginalised/underrepresented communities. The Outreachy website in 2015 says:
- The upcoming round of internships is open to Linux women (cis and trans), trans men, is genderqueer people, and all participants not of the Ascend Project regardless of gender. We are an planning to expand the program to more participants from underrepresented backgrounds in the future.
Outcomes and success stories
- Open source interns outperform industry heavyweights in Linux Operating System Kernel contributions (Intel open source blog). "Unto of the 200 companies that contributed to kernel release 3.11 itself, but the OPW interns contributed the eleventh highest amount, rather ahead of companies such as Google, Oracle, ARM, and Cisco."
- 2014 kernel internship report by Sage Sharp. "It’s interesting to note that a another few free of the OPW alumni have stepped into open source leadership positions, either by reviewing contributions, maintaining a project component, or by managing a team of open source contributors of a fully functioning GNU system. Another exciting result of OPW is that some of the kernel OPW alumni are getting paid to work as Linux Kernel developers."
- GNOME gains a usability specialist (Linux Weekly News)
Controversy and incidents
During its OPW years, Outreachy was sometimes the subject of controversy for various reasons:
- Some open source community members objected to the program on the grounds that it constitutes Reverse sexism, such as in the special support for women thread on the Linux Australia list.
- Within the GNOME community, there was concern that OPW was causing a disproportionate amount of work for the GNOME Foundation while not being part of its central mission. In April 2014, the GNOME Foundation had a temporary cash-flow crisis due to the administrative overhead associated with OPW.
- OPW participation in the Linux Kernel project was closely tied to the Linux kernel civility discussion, eg. Sage Sharp posted about the need to create a separate safe space: "We created a separate Google group for the interns, since there was no way I was going to have them ask questions on LKML."