The GNOME Foundation is an organization that develops GNOME, a desktop environment consisting completely of free software that runs on Linux and other Unix like operating systems. Recently, the GNOME Foundation ran out of money because of their involvement in the Outreach Program For Women. According to the GNOME Foundation’s website, “The Outreach Program for Women (OPW) helps women (cis and trans) and genderqueer get involved in free and open source software.” Karen Sandler, one of the organizers of the OPW, resigned as executive director of the GNOME Foundation just a couple of weeks before the GNOME Foundation revealed it had financial troubles.
People involved with the GNOME Foundation have been trying to do damage control by saying that the GNOME Foundation only administered the OPW. This is half true. Because the GNOME Foundation administered the OPW, it was on the hook for paying OPW expenses. Since the OPW program hired interns, the GNOME Foundation had to pay those interns even though the money that should have been used to pay them had not been collected yet. The GNOME Foundation ended up providing no interest loans to the OPW which drained the financial reserves of the GNOME Foundation.
What has happened to the GNOME Foundation is a sober warning to any company or organization in the tech industry that believes it needs more women. If just administering the OPW can give the GNOME Foundation financial troubles, then more of this sort of thing will cause companies and organizations in the tech industry to go bankrupt. It is also not a coincidence that over the same time that the GNOME Foundation got involved with the OPW, GNOME lost most of its user base. Clearly, the GNOME Foundation decided that outreach to women was more important than producing good software. If the tech industry wants to produce good software, it needs to focus on that and not on meaningless outreach programs.