March 29, 2001

Meet the women of KDE

Author: JT Smith

- By Dan Berkes-

Head on over the KDE home page, and scroll down a bit until you see the "Family" heading in the left-side menubar. At first glance, it doesn't appear to be anything out of the ordinary: games.kde.org, bugs.kde.org, lists.kde.org. Then there's the eye-catcher: women.kde.org.Women may be in the minority when it comes to the fields of programming and software development, but they're not such a small portion of that group as to be invisible. With one or two notable exceptions such as linuxchix.org and now KDE-Women, they're severely under-represented online.

Start with three friends, add a little beer, a dash of nice music, and a healthy portion of animated conversation, and you have the starter recipe for KDE-Women. Ralf Nolden, Torsten Rahn and Eva Brucherseifer met up for a night of relaxation after a hectic day at the Systems 2000 conference in Munich, and the next thing they knew, the latest addition to the KDE project had been concieved.

To quote the project's Web site: "And then everything happened very fast."

The first incarnation of KDE-Women was that cornerstore of Open Source projects, the mailing list. After a while, participants decided that the best supplement to the mailing list was a real-time discussion forum, which fostered creation of a hangout spot on KDE's Internet Relay Chat server. All things eventually lead to the Web, and on March 19, the group announced its new site to the world.

Brucherseifer, who serves as the project's webmaster, says the goal is to get more women involved in the creation of KDE. "Up to now there was only a low percentage of women in the KDE team and no female core developer. And not only the 'usual female' jobs like designers, documentation writers, journalists, but into every part of KDE."

KDE-Women is much more than just an online forum. The group has already hosted two European meetings, and three more meetings are already scheduled -- two in Germany and one in the United Kingdom -- to coincide with Linux trade shows taking place this summer.

The Web site is a work in progress, she stressed. Current offerings are sparse, but KDE-Women hope to have a variety of tutorials and information available as the site and the organization it supports grows. "Some possible topics are graphics, themes, user howtos."

The intent of KDE-Women is to promote cooperation, not competition. Brucherseifer is quick to point out that, although KDE-Women is run by women, and offers Open Source advice from that perspective, everyone is welcome to join.

"Personally, I have the opinion that men and women tend to do things in different ways," says Brucherseifer. "That is why there easily can arise conflicts and women often think they are not able to do things, because they would do them different and don't understand the 'male way.'

"KDE wants to be a desktop for everyone and I think it can only gain from female input."

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