Why do we get together in person each Summit? Let me tell you. A picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some pics from our Women of OpenStack boat outing Monday night on the harbor. The grey fog was everywhere and we couldn’t go on deck because it was just too wet. The buildings lighting up are an amazing sight, you can hardly capture the lights in photos. And I can hardly capture the value of getting together with other women in OpenStack at the Summit, but here goes.
We had a great time on the boat, and at happy hour afterwards I had an awesome chat with a woman from IBM who is pretty much my neighbor! It’s a small world with tight connections in Austin for high-tech women. It seems impossible with the numbers game we’d know each other’s schools, streets, neighborhoods, and so on, but in reality we’re rare enough birds of a feather that it is natural for us to get together and know each other well.
Why do we get together apart from the rest of the conference? We have a couple of themes for our meetups, we talk about outreach to more women, especially in education as early as elementary school and definitely through college. Also, I got to meet our GNOME Outreach Program for Women intern, Terri Yu, in person! That’s a huge part of these in-person gatherings, getting to know each other personally. But we also want to find concrete ways to make our meetings meaningful. We talk about a few tracks for our goals – outreach, education, career planning and mentoring. We came up with some ideas for our goals, and we keep discussing each Summit. It’s like a design summit session for women of OpenStack. In between Summits we stay in touch on LinkedIn though I also serve as an API, ha ha.
We look for speaking opportunities for women in the cloud. We have held workshops geared towards outreach to women, introducing lots of technical women to OpenStack. For example, this past year Iccha Sethi, Jessica Lucci and I ran a workshop at the Grace Hopper Open Source Day, and Anita Kuno, Lyz Krumbach Joseph and Ryan Lane ran a CodeChix workshop. We generally forge the bonds that hold together a common minority by talking about schools, parenting, gin as a vegetable, shoes, traveling, and how does this OpenStack Neutron plug-in work, anyway?
There are so few of us that we need to be diligent about our outreach and staying connected. I blogged about a question related to under representation of minorities in the Technical Committee on my Reflecting on the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong. We need to be hyper-vigilant about imposter syndrome, uncovered by researchers who found that many high-achieving females tended to believe they were not intelligent, and that they were over-evaluated by others. Believe me, I have to fake it to make it daily.
Our culture as a community may reward the most confidence, but in reality as we grow as a community it’s important to understand that some cultures don’t view confidence in the same way, and some people will not naturally exude confidence. We’re also looking at English-as-a-second-language increasing in prevalence in our community, and a former OPW (Outreach Program for Women) intern Anita Kuno recently edited our Technical Committee charter to be gender-neutral. All of this matters, all of these actions answer the valid question, “Why?” I hope you’ll join us in outreach efforts, together we make OpenStack better for all contributors.