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Re: Debian participation in Outreach Program for Women

On 15/11/13 08:18, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:
> Hi,
> As you probably noticed[1,2,3], Debian is participating in the GNOME
> foundation's Outreach Program for Women. A targeted fundraising
> campaign[4] has been running, with the informal agreement that, if it was
> "quite" successful but not successful enough to fund one slot ($5750),
> the rest would be covered with Debian funds.
> However, we are in the situation that the fundraising campaign has been
> very successful. Despite quite late announcement, $2240 have been raised
> at this point, which are matched by one of Debian's sponsors[5], turning
> this into $4480. Which means that the share paid from Debian funds would
> be rather limited.

Well done to the fundraising team and a big thanks to the matching

> I am now considering using Debian funds to cover for up to two slots.
> The maximum cost for Debian would be $7020 (2*$5750 - $4480), but
> could be reduced as the fundraising campaign is not over yet, and the
> GNOME foundation could agree to waive some fees.

Just out of interest, what is the reason for a fee from one free
software project to another?

> The Outreach Program for Women aims at building a more diverse Free
> Software community, and I think that this is something we care about a
> lot in the Debian project. Even if it's only marginally improving Debian
> on a technical level, it's clearly a way to improve Debian as a project
> and as a community.
> This is the first time we participate, and we are doing that mostly as
> an experiment. Having two data points instead of one is clearly useful,
> and I also think that it is important not to put too much pressure on
> the mentor and the intern.

This last point was emphasized in my recent blog about having being
involved in mentoring two successful GSoC students - every person works
in a very different way.  Having more than one intern provides more
useful insights.

If two interns are assigned to a single project and work as a team that
could also be an interesting contrast to GSoC, where every project
appears to have been independent.  The team-based mentoring approach (2
or more mentors/co-mentors) also works very well and provides more
continuity/chance of project completion if one mentor or one intern is
unable to follow through.

>>From a financial point of view, Debian could afford that (thanks to the
> fantastic work of the DC13 fundraising team) without restricting other
> standard expenses. I've informally consulted some people involved with
> fundraising, and they see it as an adequate use of Debian funds (= our
> regular donators are unlikely to read this as an insane way to spend
> their donations, that would jeopardize future donations).
> If you feel strongly about this, one way or another, please voice your
> opinion.

As an experiment, it may be useful to try and identify success metrics
or general objectives that have motivated Debian to join OPW.  This
could help the OPW admin and mentoring team to focus on the objectives
as they try to work out which students/projects to select.

Just some other comments that don't impact the immediate question, but
should be discussed at some point: I notice OPW is very similar to GSoC:
a single project, completed in a short timeframe, for a fixed sum of
money.  It appears to work well along the model of an internship in a
company, which is quite OK for those who have a corporate motivation
(like Google) but as Debian is not like that at all, we may not need to
constrain ourselves to work that way.

Whatever the results of the OPW involvement this year, one question may
be: in future, should we try some different formula, to contrast
ourselves from those other programs?

Debian has the profile and the finances to try other permutations,
possibly for the same size budget.  For example:

- make the program longer (e.g. 12 months) and part time, to resemble
the profile of a more typical contributor to Debian.  Like an army
reserve program, the intern/student would have to spend 1 weekend a
month training in the jungle/attending a BSP or other free software event

- provide a Debian funded academic scholarship for a female student
enrolled in some course that enables her to contribute something
meaningful to free software (e.g. a student completing a final year
software engineering project), with the student funded to attend a
DebConf or other free software event

These are just random ideas - maybe details could be discussed on
debian-women along with any other ideas that people have.

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