First off apologies for the late report! Last month the Ubuntu Developer Summit for Quantal Quetzal was held in Oakland California.
On Thursday, May 10th we had a session dedicated to the Ubuntu Women project, based on brainstorming we had prior to the summit and drawing from participation of folks who attended who were new to the project.
That evening we also hosted an Ubuntu Women dinner at my home in San Francisco. In addition to having in-person attendees Jamesha Fisher, Jessica Ledbetter, James Tatum, Asheesh Laroia, Grant Bowman and Alan Bell, we were able to fire up a Google Hangout on Alan’s laptop and also have Mackenzie Morgan, Cheri Francis and John Chiazzese join us remotely.
Huge thanks to everyone who participated in the meeting at UDS, came out for dinner (virtually or in person) and was able to help us flesh out our blueprint for this cycle!
This is an event that has evolved over time and we have had sessions about the Ubuntu Women project several times over the years. Our early sessions were essentially “how to treat women in your community” sessions that sought to discuss some of the problems many women have faced when getting involved with open source and help members of the community recognize that women are participating and how to treat us with respect.
These days, the problems many women face in open source are well-known and documented, and during our last session run by Amber Graner for the Lucid release in 2010 she moved the approach to be more of a status update on the project itself.
On Friday at 16:00 UTC I will be continuing the example that Amber set by hosting a session about our project and outlining some of our current projects, goals completed this cycle and some ideas for the future.
Just like for Career Days, to participate you’ll want to join #ubuntu-classroom and #ubuntu-classroom-chat on irc.freenode.net, this is also available via web-based chat.
On Wednesday April 18th, we are having our next Career Days session.
I am very excited to announce that Emma Marshall (System76Chick) will be presenting about being a Media Liaison. She’ll be talking about her time doing marketing with System76 and what brought her into the FOSS world.
Back in February Emma Marshall posted an Ubuntu Nail Decals thread on ubuntuforums.org offering to ship Ubuntu nail decals from System76 to anyone who wants them:
Hey ladies! I send out these free Ubuntu key stickers to people who send in self-addressed, stamped envelopes to System76. We have some extras that we don’t send out which are white circles with black Ubuntu label. If you guys want any, feel free to send me an envelope with the statement “nail decals” somewhere on the envelope.
Send requests with self-addressed, stamped envelope to
System76 (free nail decals)
1582 S Parker Rd Ste. 310
Denver, Co 80231
If I get enough requests, we can probably try out more colors! Let’s promote Ubuntu and show the community that our group is spreading the word!
It took me a couple weeks to put in my request, and tonight I got to try them out!
Huge thanks to Emma and the System76 folks for offering these, requests are still welcome if you’re interested in getting some for yourself!
On Saturday, February 25 at 17:00 UTC we welcomed Amber Graner (akgraner) to give us a review of her career leading up to her current position as a Community Manager and to offer details about being a non-developer who works in open source.
Specialist basically means that what she focuses on or specializes in particular area or topic, in this case it’s various aspects of community and its growth and management.
“Does that mean I claim to know all there is to know about community? Nope. Does anyone? Nope. However, I learn something new everyday and I try to share that knowledge daily.”
Also works as a freelance writer and journalist who contributes to Ubuntu User Magazine and other Linux New Media publications as well as one of the current co-authors of the Offical Ubuntu Book (Pearson). Currently under revision for Edition 7 set to hit shelves after the 12.04 release.
Not a developer
She is often asked: “Well then how did you get a job in FOSS?”
Her reply: “Just because I don’t write code doesn’t mean that I am not technical. Nor does it mean I am not capable of understand or learning the concepts and processes behind FOSS nor does it mean I can’t get involved and make a difference.”
The same holds true for anyone who wants to be involved in an open source project or find a job in open source.
There were many volunteer opportunities where she grew up in a rural town in Western North Carolina.
Whether it was raising money to buy the next fire truck, pitching in to help out a neighbor, playing a team sport, or being on the student council–the opportunities for learning about being a volunteer abounded.
Being part of a community shaped who she was a very young age.
Interest in computers was shaped in the mid to late 80′s
First computer, a TI-99, in 8th grade (about the age of 13), the school was given a TRS-80 model III, and as luck would have it her Uncle who was a local Dr. also got one for his office. If she wasn’t on the computer at school, she was on the one her Uncle had in his office.
Upon graduation high school she went to one year of college and then joined the Army to become an Intelligence Analyst (96B), was stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and had the opportunity to work on conflicts such as Panama, Liberia, Haiti and she also deployed to the First Gulf War.
Got to test all the latest automation that was being developed for the intelligence agencies (from ’89-’93). Not only that, she helped test J-Stars as well, as it replaced the older SLAR technology during the First Gulf War. (Note her efforts in testing (J-STARS/SLAR) technology in deep attack missions during the first Gulf War she was awarded a Bronze Star) It was also in the Army where she was first introduced to Unix then Linux via slackware through some testing that the 82nd Airborne Division was experimenting with.
In later roles she helped test other systems, trained people at the companies she worked for on the latest desktop technologies, and even helped with a few manual conversions over the years.
At UDS-P (Ubuntu Developer Summit to plan the Precise Pangolin 12.04 release) she had the opportunity to interview with Linaro and from there started with them later that month
Getting involved with FOSS
In spite of all this experience with technology, somewhere a long the way, she got the (wrong!) impression that she wasn’t technical enough to work in FOSS
Began using Ubuntu in 2009
Started blogging about that experience and joined the Ubuntu Women Project
Rikki Endsley of Linux Pro Magazine, happened to see her blog, and started following her. Then one day they asked her to write for them.
Was asked to review Jono Bacon’s Art of Community and the Official Ubuntu Book
Experience with Ubuntu Women
Upon joining, asked “Do I have to become a MOTU to contribute?” (MOTU: Masters of the Universe, “keep the Universe and Multiverse components of Ubuntu in shape. They are community members who spend their time adding, maintaining, and supporting as much as possible the software found in Universe.”)
Ubuntu Women Project member and author of several Drupal books, Emma Jane Hogbin told her once, “Don’t think everyone who joins an open source project has to become a developer. Use the skills you have, learn the ones you want, and just be yourself.” AWESOME advice.
Other members were kind enough to point her to the documentation and encouraged her to figure some things out on her own. “While it wasn’t always easy it’s paid off.”
Advice for getting involved and working with FOSS
If you have something to offer a project chances are you have something to offer a company and its community.
Don’t discount any of your experience – regardless of whether you got a paycheck to do it or you volunteered. Work is work regardless of if you can deposit money for having done the work.
When applying to work in FOSS INCLUDE all the skills you’ve learned, regardless of where or how you learned them.
When writing a Resume/CV, have it reviewed by people you trust, limit it to one page and create a webpage for all the other details. Organize it in logically categories and include a link on the CV or resume.
If you are writing a blog, do the best job you can and let your personality shine through. Don’t be afraid to promote your blog, and let others know what you are interested in.
Find a mentor. Find someone who does what you want to do. Find out how they got there, how they do what they do, then set a course for self-improvement.
Learn by doing, don’t ask people to give you answers all the time – it will pay off for you.
On Saturday, November 12th, we welcomed Canonical CEO Jane Silber to the Ubuntu Women Career Days to give us an overview of her career in tech from her beginnings as a Software Developer to her current role as CEO.
Jane takes is through the path of her career so far
First became interested in computers in High School
Majored in Math/Comp Sci in college
Joined a software startup in a garage in Washington DC
Joined as a software developer, but also ended up doing a fair amount of research, statistical analysis, data modelling
Very classic startup: everyone working hard, doing all sorts of roles beyond your job description
Went to grad school for an MS degree in Management of Technology
Went to Japan for 2.5 yrs and worked as a software dev/researcher/manager
Returned to the Washington DC area and got a job with a small software company
Joined as a software engineer, moved in to team management roles and eventually became VP of the company
Spent 8 years at the company, and another 2 after the company was sold to another
Following that year she I moved to London, met Mark Shuttleworth through a mutual friend, and joined Canonical as COO in the summer of 2004 (Canonical started in April 2004), became CEO in March of last year
She also discusses some of the gender-based bias, both subtle and overt, she encountered and how she handled it.
Some advice she offers on the topic of the gender inequality in tech:
There is a lot written about girls/women in science and technology and she doesn’t subscribe to a single, simple theory about what is right or wrong or how to fix it, but there are a couple things that she has read over the years, that really fits with her experience. Studies show that
Men are more confident in the work place
Women express more self doubt about their abilities
Men are more likely to apply for jobs that they know they are not fully qualified for (in comparison to women applying for jobs they know they are not fully qualified for, not in comparison to jobs they are qualified for)
People doing hiring are more likely to judge men based on potential (e.g., “he’s got the core skills, he could do it”), and more likely to judge women based on experience (e.g., “she’s never done this before”)
In many/most people’s careers, there is a pivotal “stretch job” – the job that really pushes you beyond what you’ve done before
If she were to offer advice, it would be to be open minded, to look for the stretch roles if that’s what you want, to remember that you don’t have to have done everything before.
The session wrapped up with a Q&A session, with questions including:
What was the hardest part about transitioning from a s/w developer into a management role?
In your experience specifically and in your opinion about technical management in general, how important is it to have extensive programming experience when it comes to managing teams in a tech company?
Are you a part of any technical career organizations (think USENIX, ACM) or specifically women in tech organizations (WITI, Women in Tech), do you find value in them?