Gendered work culture in Free/Libre Open Source Software Development



Lin Y & den Besten M (2019) Gendered work culture in Free/Libre Open Source Software Development. Gender, Work and Organization, 26 (7), pp. 1017-1031.

This article adopts a feminist perspective to examine masculine work culture in the development of free/libre open source software. The authors draw on a case study of ‘the Heidi Bug’ discovered during the development of the Mozilla Firefox web browser to examine how 'gendered talk' was (en)-acted to facilitate 'bricolage' in an online work environment. Such gendered talks contain cultural references familiar to male developers. Though seemingly innocuous, such acts could be seen as a performance of gender that simply reflects the hegemonic heterosexual masculine culture manifested in online virtual work space. The virtual work space therefore can be exclusive to those who shared the cultural references. Although it may not necessarily be ignorance or insensitivity of male developers, a more gender-balanced, women-friendly and inclusive work place certainly would benefit from a more diverse environment. This paper highlights the gendered aspect of software development through examining the language use and mainstream 'bricolage' practice, and establishes a compelling ground for enlarging the talent pool to include more women and integrating gender ethics (e.g., raising awareness of sensitive languages and design approaches) into computer ethics education.

free/libre open source software; open innovation; work cultures; online virtual work space; heterohegemonic masculinity; humour; gendered talks

Gender, Work and Organization: Volume 26, Issue 7

Publication date31/07/2019
Publication date online05/06/2018
Date accepted by journal08/02/2018