Hello! I’m reporting from the OpenStack Summit in Boston. There’s one and a half days left in the summit, and it’s been great so far.
I’d like to draw attention to an OpenStack group which is near and dear to my heart, the Women of OpenStack. I am a female engineer, and have been working in the field of engineering for quite some time. The low ratio of women in engineering has always been rather obvious to me, but with the advent of things like Girls Who Code and #ilooklikeanengineer, the gender gap has become part of a larger dialogue about diversity in engineering. As a population, we need to think with all of our brain power, and that includes people of all types, from all walks of life.
When I went to my first OpenStack Summit (this is my sixth!), I attended several of the Women of OpenStack events. I have to admit, I was a bit leery of getting involved, because I worried whether I would come across an “us” versus “them” mindset, which is not at all representative of how I feel. When I walk into a room full of predominantly male engineers, I do not “lead with my gender” or feel apart; rather, I think to myself “This is my tribe!” With all of that said, the attitude and charter of Women of OpenStack is very much one of encouragement and inclusion. I’ve had many men ask me if the events are solely for women, and to be honest, I have yet to encounter one that does not welcome a diverse audience. Just as we need to think with all of our collective minds, we need to close the gender gap collaboratively. Advocacy from our male coworkers is not only encouraged, it is essential.
While in Boston, I’ve had the privilege of being involved in some of the activities sponsored by the Women of OpenStack. I participated in speed mentoring for the first time, which is kind of like speed dating, but for OpenStack (not nearly as awkward as it may sound, I assure you). The mentoring hat that I wore that day was focused on career mentoring, and it was an amazing experience to talk with several people who were either just getting started in their careers, or just getting started with OpenStack in particular, and to encounter their energy and enthusiasm. As part of volunteering for speed mentoring, I also signed up to hand out fliers for the session beforehand, and I can now sympathize with the people who work in mall kiosks and have to spend all day trying to attract attention. All kidding aside, people were really obliging, and the session was well attended.
In addition to speed mentoring, I’ve signed up for a six-month stint as an OpenStack mentor, which is also sponsored by Women of OpenStack. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my mentee and finding out what his goals and aspirations are, not just for OpenStack, but for his career in general. I’m finding that being a mentor is not just a way to give back to the community, though that in and of itself is amazing, but that it also energizes and inspires me.
Women of OpenStack activities include much more than just mentoring. Earlier in the week, there was a working lunch session that included lightening talks and a subsequent discussion. Also, there was a git and gerrit lunch and learn session, which has been included in several previous summits, and has been well received. And there is a Women of OpenStack lounge area for taking a break, and perhaps getting to know someone who is part of the community.
To close, I’d like to mention an interview that I did with my colleague, Sandhya Dasu, for The Cube this week, where we talked about Women of OpenStack and gender diversity issues.
Thank you for your time, and that’s it from Boston for now!