The X Factor and Women in Tech
Last December I wrote about the "X Factor and Women in Joomla". This time, I am extending it to women in tech. On March 23, I attended the LibrePlanet 2013: Commit Change conference that was held at Harvard University. A two-day conference, I was only able to attend the first day, and I was on a mission to follow up with Marina Zhurakhinskaya from GNOME's Outreach Program for Women.
Marina is leading the program which provides 72 women the opportunity to particiapte in free software internships. Sandy Ordonez invited Marina to attend the March 16 JoomlaDay Boston event. The first thing she commented on was how many women we had both attending and presenting sessions! We had 60 participants, of whom 16 were women, that's 26.6%! Of the 16 presenters, five of us were women, and that is 31.25%! The math is getting better!
We need more women involved in tech
This is what Marina and GNOME are promoting, bringing more women into the tech field. She made several suggestions including having beginners talk about new projects that they are working on, which will in turn bring in other "newbies", which makes the environment more inviting. A bug session idea was to give the easy bugs to beginners so they can learn how to do it, and as they get better will pass their knowledge along. She also suggested that more women speak at conferences, not "unicorn talks", but on topics they know. Seeing a woman at the podium encourages other women to get involved.
Where does Joomla come in?
Joomla has partnered with the GNOME Outreach Program to sponsor two internships for women; Sandy has written a blog post with details about how you can apply or donate to the project: https://community.joomla.org/blogs/leadership/1738-joomla-a-gnome-partner-up-for-an-internship-for-women.html
Marina has blog at http://planeteria.org/wfs where you can read more about GNOME.
Be excellent to each other
Another session I sat in on included Deb Nicholson from OpenHatch.org. She spoke about creating "on ramps" to make getting involved more welcoming. One thing that she said during her talk was directed at retaining volunteers, "be excellent to each other". She said volunteers can often feel overwhelmed if they take on too much, or burned out if they feel they are under-appreciated.
I enjoyed this panel discussion which also included Beth Lynn Eicher from Computereach.com and Jonathan Nadeau, a blind man who spoke about how crucial free software is for people who depend on assistive technology.
If you are up for something interesting this July 10 and 11, the ADA Initiative will be holding AdaCamp San Francisco, a conference for women in open technology and culture.