Women in Open Source - Ruth Cheesley - CMS Africa 2014
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Women in Open Source - Ruth Cheesley - CMS Africa 2014



A talk delivered at the first CMS Africa Summit held in Nairobi on 7-8 March 2014. The talk explored the opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and how Open ...

A talk delivered at the first CMS Africa Summit held in Nairobi on 7-8 March 2014. The talk explored the opportunities for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and how Open Source can be a door into a career and/or hobby in these subjects.



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  • Good afternoon, and thank you for inviting me to speak at CMS Africa <br /> Joomla! Community Leadership Team for just over a year <br /> User Group team, <br /> Marketing Working Group <br /> experiences within Open Source communities, and particularly around the topic of getting more women involved in technology. <br /> Passionate about promoting Science Tech Eng Maths as an exciting and interesting career choice for women. <br />
  • So, before the guys in the audience think this talk doesn&apos;t concern them, it does! <br /> We&apos;re talking about open source communities, after all, and you&apos;re a part of that community as much as the women are. <br /> If you don&apos;t currently have many women involved in your community, it&apos;s going to fall on your shoulders to invite and welcome women into the community. To set up those conditions to help women shine. <br /> You are just as able to help make a community a welcoming place for women as the women in the community, so no snoozing in the back row! <br />
  • So for starters, let&apos;s look at women in technology – the big picture, if you like. <br /> Traditionally the STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – have been under-represented by women. Some of the statistics are really quite staggering – less than 15% of positions in some areas are filled by women. <br /> When you consider women who are in leadership roles in STEM organisations, the percentage is even smaller. In some cultures it&apos;s still unusual for a woman to be CEO – even in the UK this happens. <br /> In the Open Source world we have a better proportion of involvement from women, but it is still very much a minority population in pretty much all projects. <br />
  • The good news is that things do appear to be changing. <br /> The first fundamental shift has to be in the perception of and respect for women, and the way in which society views the role of women, and this is changing. <br /> Thankfully, there is light at the end of this tunnel and things have changed even within my short lifetime. <br /> It is becoming more &apos;normal for women to be involved in technology-based subjects, and in the Open Source world, projects are actively reaching out to women. I recently started to get involved with the Ubuntu Women project, for example, and there are similar projects within the CMS communities. <br />
  • There are lots of different ways that as a community we can work towards be supportive of all genders – and it&apos;s also important to recognise that at times we can be less supportive, sometimes without realising. <br />
  • I was hoping I&apos;d get to to spend the two weeks working in a shipyard, perhaps being able to see inside the workings of real ships, work alongside engineers and get a feeling for whether this was what I wanted to do. <br />
  • Then my letter came through, and to my dismay, I was not being given an engineering placement, I was getting placed in a technical drawing office of an engineering firm. <br /> Immediate problem here, I cannot draw for toffee at the best of times, let alone when they have to be mm perfect and straight lines! <br /> So, for two weeks I had to try and draw schematics of salt water straining devices, when I wanted to be out in the engineering room tinkering with the engines. It was a real disappointment. <br /> The sad thing is that directly or indirectly this happens all the time. <br />
  • That was a pretty extreme case and nowadays hopefully would not happen, but here is a more subtle case. <br /> A doctor noticed when doing ward rounds, when a question was asked that the male students would be raising their hands and the females would not. <br /> Didn&apos;t mean they didn&apos;t know the answer. Even if he called them out, the women wouldn&apos;t put themselves forward unless nudged. <br /> Decided to stop the hands up approach and choose the person to answer insteadI would probably never have put myself forward to join the CLT unless I was given a gentle nudge by somebody, given the confidence to go for it. <br />
  • To me, as a 14 year old interested in engineering, I was furious. My male friends in my class were at Sunseekers Yachts working on the most amazing engines and ships, while I was trying to work out how to sharpen a pencil and draw lines that were straight. <br /> You see, there was no real issue as to why I couldn&apos;t be placed in the same location, but there was at that time a societal conception that girls did not do hands-on engineering, especially in the male-dominated marine industry. <br /> Gender shouldn&apos;t matter – it should be about whether you can do the job, but again we&apos;re talking about a community. People coming together, working together – and women are different to men. - communicate differently, feedback, ways of working, respect, cultural considerations <br />
  • I take a lot of inspiration from the strong women I am fortunate to have as role models in my life– my nan, and my mum. These two women are just incredibly strong, and inspire me on a daily basis. <br /> They encouraged me to widen my horizon and see where there were opportunities rather than complain that I wasn&apos;t being given them. If none exist they encouraged me to set up the conditions for them to come into being, to ask for help to make that happen. <br /> There are so many opportunities within open source communities to get involved regardless of your gender – there are opportunities waiting for you, just jump in and get living your life! <br />
  • Don&apos;t forget that if you don&apos;t have opportunities available to you, there is no reason why you can&apos;t build your own door. <br /> This is definitely something that being involved with open source projects can help you to do. If you have access to a computer and an internet connection, you can get involved. GNOME, GSOC, Hackathons, PBF <br /> You get to work with people from all over the world, learn some useful skills like communication, patience! Leadership, and of course make friends. <br /> You&apos;ll often be working with the latest technologies – which you might not come across at university – and with people who are experts in their field who are willing to help you. <br />
  • So at school I decided to figure out what was out there that would help me learn. I wanted to get involved, I wanted to follow my interests in technology, but I had no idea how.. <br /> I really believe that the open source community can make a difference here. <br /> We have the potential to inspire other girls and women to get involved, have a go, and see what happens. Anybody can inspire others, regardless of your gender. <br /> To do that, we need to have a community which supports people of all genders, from all walks of life, and encourages people to grow into their own tall poppies. When I was asked if I would join the Leadership Team, I jumped at the chance. Interestingly, it was another women who recommended me. I have the chance to inspire others <br />
  • The Joomla community is actually pretty diverse, we have quite a lot of women involved within the Leadership Team and Working Groups, and around 20% of attendees at JWC identified as female. Here are some of the women who were recently interviewed by opensource.com in &apos;women in open source&apos; week. <br /> We have our own peer support groups on Facebook, which is an incredibly supportive environment which is helping women in our community to thrive. <br /> We&apos;re encouraging involvement in programmes like the GNOME outreach programme and GSOC, and I would really love to invite any of you to come and find out how you might be able to get involved – you don&apos;t have to be a coder to contribute to an open source project. <br />
  • You can be as involved as you want to be <br /> Take things at your pace <br /> Lots of areas – from coding to leadership and everything in between <br /> Opportunity to learn from people who have a lot to give <br /> The ethos is about sharing – give what you can, take what you need – you can share what you learn with others, paying it forward. <br />
  • Just jump in – there are several representatives from different content management systems here today, why not find out how you can get involved? <br /> We all have to start somewhere! <br /> What are you interested in? <br /> What do you need to support your development? <br /> Who can you ask for help? <br /> Who or what do you aspire to? Keep your inspirations alive! <br />
  • How welcoming is your community for women? How supportive are you personally in helping to engage people from all walks of life, regardless of gender? <br /> Is there anything we can do as an OS community to encourage more women both to get involved and stay involved? I&apos;d love to talk with you about this later. <br /> Finally, It can take a lot of courage for someone to knock on your door and ask for help or volunteer to get involved – please respect that! <br /> please make sure they feel welcome, and perhaps consider a buddy system to help newcomers find their feet <br />

Women in Open Source - Ruth Cheesley - CMS Africa 2014 Women in Open Source - Ruth Cheesley - CMS Africa 2014 Presentation Transcript

  • Women in Open Source © Chiara Aliotta – Until Sunday Ruth Cheesley - @RCheesley
  • Stay with me, guys! © andrewgenn - Fotolia.com
  • Women in Technology © Michael Brown - Fotolia.com
  • Things are changing © Mangojuicy - Fotolia.com
  • How do we support all genders? © graphicsdunia4u - Fotolia.com
  • My expectation ... © Michal Adamczyk - Fotolia.com
  • The reality ... © Apop - Fotolia.com
  • Men and women are different © Gennadiy Poznyakov - Fotolia.com
  • Should gender be an issue? © Michael Brown - Fotolia.com
  • Take the initiative © Cheesley Family!
  • And don't forget …. © maxmitzu - Fotolia
  • We all need role models © akulamatiau - Fotolia.com
  • Meet the Women of Joomla!
  • Why get involved in Open Source? © kentoh - Fotolia.com
  • How to get started?
  • To the community ...