A two-day workshop on women in free software and Fedora Women Day were held on the 15th and 16th of July 2016 at the Netaji Subhash Engineering College in Kolkata, India. This event was jointly organized by Ubuntu Women Project, Fedora Project, and the university. It was substantially sponsored by Ubuntu Women Project. The goal of the workshop was also to get new participants interested, improve the level of participation by women, and explore new avenues of free software community development. Given the factors involved, the Workshop on Women in Free Software / Fedora Women Day 2016 (shortened to WWFS-FWD’2016) was a successful one.

Event organization reflection

Rebeka and myself were the main organizers of the event. While I handled most of the speaker choice, general logistics, and part of the event publicity, Rebeka handled all of college-level publicity and local organization. She is a brilliant student, but was handling an event for the first time and had a major health problem during the organization period. Overall, her handling of the event was good, but was wanting on few points like “directions to the workshop lab” and specificity of directions to the place.

We had a low number of participants, but all were dedicated. Participation from the college was very low (our original estimate was that 30 seats would be easily filled up by college students). The college in question is not easily reachable, though it is about three kilometers from easily reachable places (by public transport). Any student of the college would know that traveling to the place in the rainy season is a hard physical exercise (only wretched autos ply on 80% of the last muddy stretch). Speakers found it difficult to reach the place too and even I reached an hour late on the first day. Most of the participants were students of colleges or schools. Some pre-registered participants failed to turn up because of others reasons. This way, our environment may interact with us.

Day 1

Otherwise, the event went well with an ideal set of talks. The weather on day one was terrible (100% humidity with rain). I was to speak first, but I let Trishna speak first as I was late. She spoke about her contribution to Bodhi, Fedora Cloud, and about contributing to related projects.

My talk on ”Free Software, Women and Feminism” was on all the following: basics of free software, differences with OSI, evil nature of proprietary software and related development models, lessons of MS-IE4, geek feminism aspects, feminist issues, functional feminism, micro-aggressions, SH policies, free software development models, necessity of new interdisciplinary development models and licenses beyond GNU/GPL v3+.

After this talk, we had lunch and the two pounds of cake for our event. We were left with extra lunch packets and part of the cake (we took them home and did not waste food).

Post-lunch talks

My post-lunch talk was on basics of ”GNU/Linux from a functional perspective”. I spoke of the ecosystem, distribution types, basics of installation, Ubuntu, shells, permissions, files and filesystems, partitioning, apt-get, contributing to Ubuntu Women, documentation, and bug fixing.

The next talk was a lively one by Priyanka(N) on “Imposter Syndrome” and steps to overcome this environment-induced problem on women. Of course, competent feminists would be able to overcome this problem more easily. We shifted remaining talks scheduled for the day to the 17th as we were all tired.

Day 2

On the first session of the second day, Rebeka had her hands-on session on Python scripting and system administration. The participants displayed much enthusiasm in the session.

This session followed with Priyanka(S)’s session on handling Twitter data with ”Parsey Mcparsey”. Due to a bug with the demo, the talk shifted to the last session at 17:40. Gunjan spoke next at length on the basics of images, using GIMP, color models, channels, layers, alpha channels, retouching photos, and Python scripts in GIMP. The talk was well-received.

Trupti’s video session on “Drupal basics” played next. She introduces the basics of setting up websites with Drupal CMS in the video. The audio was a bit low. After this, we all had lunch.

Post-lunch talks

Post-lunch, Priyanka(N) talked about IRC, bug tracker systems like Bugzilla, her use of Bugzilla in Mozilla projects, versioning systems, GIT and contributing to FOSS.

Next, I introduced LaTeX in the context of related standards. I then introduced SGML, subsets thereof, TeXLive, basic LaTeX markup, and considered representative markup. The source code of the schedule of our event was useful for demonstrating both structure and markup of tables with the booktab package. I did not use the source of the event poster in tikzposter (as it is a bit more complex).

After my talk, Swapna delivered an excellent hands on session on ”GNU/Octave” starting from basics and going all the way to svm code.

I interacted with all speakers and had optimized their talks for the workshops. This substantially contributed to improving the quality of talks. Originally, Swapna was not even willing to speak and claimed no knowledge of GNU/Octave and that she is a Matlab user. So I had to convince her about code compatibility. As mentioned above, she delivered an excellent introduction to GNU/Octave on day two.

The slides of all our talks are found at the links below:

Speaker Topic
A Mani Free Software, Women and Feminism
A Mani GNU/Linux, Ubuntu- A Functional View
Trishna Guha What I do in Fedora and How Can You Get Involved
Priyanka Nag Imposter Syndrome
Rebeka Mukherjee Python Scripting and System Administration
Trupti Kini Drupal Basics
Priyanka Sinha Parsey Mc Parseface
Gunjan Gautam GIMP
Priyanka Nag How To Contribute to FLOSS?
A Mani LATEX for Publishing
Swapna Agarwal GNU/Octave

More reports

Rebeka has written a nice blog report on the event. Trishna has also written about her talk.

Female and Diversity icons courtesy of Emily Boyer and Cara Foster (respectively) from the Noun Project