Travis Foundation

Fostering Open Source with Rails Girls Summer of Code

On July 1st 2016, we kicked off the fourth edition of Rails Girls Summer of Code, which focuses on something we support and feel very strongly about: Open Source and the need to make the community more inclusive, diverse, and newcomer-friendly.

A global initiative

This year, over 90 teams (that’s 180 women!) from all over the world applied to the program — to spend three months coding on an Open Source Project in their city, with the support of local coaches. In June, the 20 teams (16 sponsored, 4 volunteer) were announced: while some of the teams chosen are from cities that have participated before (Berlin, Warsaw, New Delhi to name a few), this year we also have participating teams from Cairo (Egypt), Kampala (Uganda), Salvador (Brazil) and Portland (USA), for the very first time since the start of the program in 2013. Take a look at all the teams from this year’s edition below, and get a better look at the map here.

RGSoC map view of the teams & projects of RGSoC | Image: Anika Lindtner/Laura Gaetano

From 2013 to today

We’ve been running the program since the very beginning and have seen the way it changed. With the help of local and global communities, the team behind RGSoC grew from a small, tight-knit Berlin group of volunteers in April 2013 to a group of developers, designers, organisers scattered across the world who work together towards one goal: to change the lives of aspiring programmers every year.

The heart of the program: Our Open Source Projects

Our Open Source projects are at the heart of RGSoC, and it’s a win-win situation for everyone. As an aspiring developer, being hands-on and working on projects is important; but working on an existing project which already has contributors and an own community even more so, because it offers a very special experience. The participants are able to learn directly from experts on the subject, are provided a real environment in which to acquire knowledge, and become a part of the project’s community — even after the summer is over. Through our program, we’re able to give Open Source projects visibility and help them grow the next generation of contributors: because so many projects are abandoned or unmaintained, maintainers are constantly on the lookout for new contributors. Since there are so few women contributing to Open Source overall, RGSoC is an extremely valuable asset to the Open Source community. All of our projects have one thing in common: they’re extremely newcomer-friendly. After potential projects apply, we review their issues and description, selecting projects that are, among other things, approachable, supportive of our cause, and that provide future contributors a lot of help to get started. All of our selected projects for 2016, to be chosen from by students, can be found here.

All projects participating in RGSoC 2016:

The importance of a safe space

At Travis Foundation, we understand the importance of fostering diversity; we know for a fact that diversity of thought, race, gender, sexuality and age can make a huge difference in the future of tech, and this is why Rails Girls Summer of Code was born. Even though our program focuses on bringing more women* into Open Source, we also support diversity other than gender diversity through RGSoC and other programs. We know it takes a safe space to learn: that’s why RGSoC has a Code of Conduct each participant (including organisers and mentors) must abide by. The Code of Conduct ensures that everyone taking part in the program understands the values we believe in. Together with the rest of the organising team, we provide support for all participants, and have a system with a Trust Committee in place. Involving external advisors should make reporting infringements, or bringing up issues, easier and ensures a way to report behaviour linked to one of the organisers or core members of RGSoC: that’s why some members of the Trust Committee are completely external to the program. The information handled by every member of the Trust Committee is completely confidential; it’s not passed on to any member of the organising team, unless specifically asked to do so by the person reporting an infraction or issue. We hope that in this way, we can provide a nurturing and safe environment all teams can learn in.

We couldn’t do it without you

Every single year, it’s impressive to see how much the word spreads about the program, and how many women get excited about being part of this unique experience. There are so many great initiatives that support underrepresented groups in tech, and we are incredibly happy to be a part of this movement to diversify our field; but if it wasn’t for all the people and companies who supported and believed in RGSoC from day one, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Companies like Travis CI, and SoundCloud, which hosted some of our RGSoC events in the past; GitHub, Absolventa, Rebased, and CodeQuest, which year after year offer coaches and desks for some of our teams as coaching companies; Google Open Source, Basecamp, and innoQ, that sponsored us every year since the very beginning; and of course, all the other sponsors and individuals who support our cause and want to be a part of this important change in Open Source.

If you are interested in finding out more about Rails Girls Summer of Code, take a look at the blog and follow @RailsGirlsSoC on twitter.

* In the RGSoC program all people with non-binary gender identities or who identify as women are welcome and we refer to them when using the term women.

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