The understanding of and appreciation for diversity varies widely across projects

Our interviewees talked frankly about diversity and the lack of it in FOSS infrastructure projects. Overall, interviewees they were in favour of greater diversity, but the degree to which people proactively make their projects more inclusive varies a lot. Since such efforts would open up new ways of joining a project, they go against the self-image of the community. Diversity efforts are generally limited.


Insight 3


  • Data about diversity in FOSS infrastructure projects is mostly anecdotal or drawn from GitHub, which offers only a limited perspective. No comprehensive study exists.
  • Since a self-motivated, self-organized work culture so heavily influences the open-source identity, changes to it are quickly perceived as a threat to the community’s culture. However, in practice, this culture filters out people with different backgrounds.
  • Projects without community managers or a governance structure tend not to gather data on the diversity of their contributors or take steps towards more diversity.
  • Existing diversity efforts focus mostly on women from industrialized countries.
  • Some female-presenting interview partners actively favoured projects with community management in place over other (even paid) positions in similar projects where it was absent.
  • Diversity efforts are considered to be time and cost intensive; their chances of success remain unclear. Projects are more likely to support people who match their profile of existing contributors because they are assumend to become a more active part of the community, on the basis of cultural similarity, financial independence, time zones and visa restrictions.


“It is a homogenous crowd, and it will likely remain that way – it’s a shame.”

“We lack a community person. The acceptance for it is missing, we need the money to produce code.”

“I miss hardcore hacking women.”

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