In order to track the progress of the Ubuntu Women project it is important to have a relevant and measurable indicator which can be monitored on a regular basis. Ubuntu has a formal membership process which is open to all, but requires applicants to demonstrate a sustained and substantial contribution to the community. All types of contribution are recognised, technical and otherwise. The list of Ubuntu Members is published on Launchpad and we maintain a monthly count of the number of members who are women.
Targets will be set for each release cycle and will be achieved by encouraging more women to become Ubuntu Members and providing help on completion of wiki pages and testimonials supporting their application.
Which way is the overall percentage going?
This chart tracks the history of the key indicator from 2005 to present showing how the percentage of female members of Ubuntu has risen over time. It would appear to be increasing by about 0.5% per release cycle.
What would we have to do to change it in the next cycle?
Assuming about 10 men per month will continue to be awarded membership and as of 9.10 there were 511 Ubuntu Members, so by 10.04 there will be 571 Ubuntu Members including the existing 23 women and the 60 men expected to arrive by Lucid Lynx.
If no additional women join (and none leave/expire) the percentage would fall to 4.02%
To maintain the current level of nearly 4.5% there should be an additional 3 women
To get to 5% would require an additional 6 women
To get to 5.5% would require an additional 9 women
To get to 6% would require an additional 11 women
To obtain and maintain 50% would require an additional 550 women, plus 10 per month thereafter.
There are 52 people listed on the Profiles page, if all of these were Ubuntu members that would be about 10%, however the page is not at all comprehensive and there are a number of female Ubuntu members not listed.
How fast are the numbers rising?
Each month the various membership boards and sub teams such as Kubuntu approve new memberships, this chart shows the historical breakdown on a monthly basis.
The monthly figures are quite spiky, but not rising over time, you can see it is roughly 10 new members per month, here is what it looks like when plotted cumulatively with the data stacked, a nice straight line.
From Launchpad data relating to current members of Ubuntu we can see the distribution of the number of days from creating a launchpad profile to being accepted as a member. There is an initial peak, probably caused by a combination of long term active members of the community who create a launchpad profile in order to apply for membership plus the initial creation of Launchpad in 2005. The second peak at around 500 days (actually that bar might be more accurately labelled 450±50) would appear to be the most representative duration. The very first bucket, labelled zero on the graph represents 9 people that launchpad thinks created their profiles after they became members, this would appear to be a bug. The second bucket labelled 100 shows the number of people who became a member within 100 days of creating their profile and so on. This may give some indication of the lag between introducing a bunch of new people to the awesomeness of Ubuntu and seeing a bump in membership just over a year later.
Possible strategies for growth
The starting assumptions derived from the data above are: 23 women Ubuntu members, 488 men. New men are added at the rate of 60 per six-month release cycle; women, 3.5 per. Assuming the rate of men becoming members does not change, here are some possible growth targets for increasing the number of women. (Solid line is the fraction of new members who are women; dashed line is the fraction of the total.)
If every cycle the rate at which new women arrive increases by 10%, about 4 (fractionally less) would become members leading up to Lucid and another 4 (fractionally more) before Ubuntu-M. 50% of new members would be women in 2024, and 50% of all members in 2033.
If every cycle the total number of women increased by 15% (e.g. 15% of all existing female members mentored a new one), we would reach 50% new in 2020 and total in 2026.
If, however, every cycle the total number of women increased by 5% of all members (1 in 20 Ubuntu members mentored a woman to become a new member), we would see an immediate (and large) jump coming in to Lucid. 50% of new members would be reached in 2013 and total in 2020.
If for the first two years we can expect momentum to mean an increase in the rate of growth of 0.5%, starting January 2010:
- 0.5% growth from 4.5% to 5% by July 2010
- 1% growth from 5% to 6% by January 2011
- 1.5% growth from 6% to 7.5% by July 2011
- 2% growth from 7.5% to 9.5% by January 2012
At this pace, double-digit membership percentages would be possible by the end of 2012. This assumes that as more women become members, momentum will be gained.
All of these scenarios have the usual geometric growth runaway problems in the long term.