“Free as in sexist?” Free culture and the gender gap

  • Joseph Reagle Northeastern University
Keywords: Gender, Free Culture, FLOSS, Linux, Ubuntu, Wikipedia


Despite the values of freedom and openness, the free culture movement’s gender balance is as skewed (or more so) as that of the computing culture from which it arose. Based on the collection and analysis of discourse on gender and sexism within this movement over a six–year period, I suggest three possible causes: (a) some geek identities can be narrow and unappealing; (b) open communities are especially susceptible to difficult people; and, (c) the ideas of freedom and openness can be used to dismiss concerns and rationalize the gender gap as a matter of preference and choice.

Author Biography

Joseph Reagle, Northeastern University
Assistant Professor Communication Studies Northeastern University
How to Cite
Reagle, J. (2012). “Free as in sexist?” Free culture and the gender gap. First Monday, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v18i1.4291