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Can Free, "Open-Source" Software Bridge the Gender Gap in Technology?

Feb 16, 2011, 04:03 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jared Spurbeck)

"If girls are taught computer skills in school from an early age, then there will be just as many female computer programmers as male ones ... at least, in theory. But when computer classes involve being taught to use products from Apple, Adobe and Microsoft -- and include activities like field trips to the Apple Store -- who's benefiting from them? The girls, or the corporations that sponsor their classes?

"That was the reasoning behind Máirín Duffy's "Free software course in digital media," which she taught to 14-year-old Girl Scouts in October. The open-source software she taught them to use included free alternatives to Microsoft and Adobe's wares, like the Inkscape vector graphics program and the GIMP image editor. And while Máirín's employer, Red Hat, pays people like her to create such open-source software, the results are shared freely for everyone to use -- programming "source" code and all. This allows people to create their own versions of them, like the Seashore image editor for Mac, and to always have the creative tools that they need available for free."

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