Sunday, May 14, 2017

OSCON 2017 talk experience

After many years, I gave a talk at OSCON yesterday on my experiences with starting and running CodeChix over the last 8+ years.  Something I tend not to talk about.  My slides are posted at:

Initially, Nithya Ruff had proposed a talk about community building (she's on my board) and I had chatted quite a bit with her about various non-technical aspects of running and building CodeChix and having a full time job at the same time.  So, when she suggested that it would be a good idea to share my experiences, I agreed to be a co-presenter with her on the talk.  For this talk, I took PTO days from work since VMware was not involved in any way.

After several rounds of editing of slides and feedback from Nithya and Kelsey, I decided to talk a little bit about my career background and then focus on CodeChix' impact over the last 8 years or so.

It was great being able to talk to a small audience about OFconnect, CodeChix Technical Curriculums and DevPulseCon.

I had to rush through the latter part of my presentation due to time limitations.  There is so much to cover and even though I tried to be succinct, it takes time to explain the subtle differences between industry vs open source mindsets, the differences in the target audiences where I have one sector of very dedicated, driven women engineers who really care about engineering and another sector that is only interested in a job, not really interested in being particularly driven - just a secondary job to pay the bills while the husband does the primary job.  Tailoring programs to meet both audiences is hard especially since my natural instinct gravitates towards the former.  But, I have to meet the needs of both audiences despite my personal biases.

Not to mention the little side story about the behemoth company which touts undying support of open source on their website and wouldn't let 2 of their women engineers contribute to OFconnect.

I was glad I got to put one image slide of a glacier into the presentation after climbing an offshoot of Vatnaj√∂kull in Skaftafell national park in Iceland.   The landscape navigation for our careers as women engineers is very similar to navigating/climbing glaciers, I think.

I mentioned to the audience about the three main categories of hurdles for open source contributions by women engineers - Technical (not really an issue),  Logistical (just needs more practice) and Cultural (biggest hurdle and gnarly).  Also, about building a "trusted net" to rely on for support/deflection and how hard that is.  And why.

Overall, I think the audience was receptive - except for the one guy whose eyes kept closing every few minutes.  Our talk was right before lunch - his blood sugar might have plummeted.

Hopefully, I will get to present the rest of the material that I have (part of draft 1) at a developer-centric conference someday soon.

Especially the part where I debunk some of the touted "solutions" and "recommendations" by clueless institutions in ivory towers who believe more in dictating untested bullshit and extracting lots of money on that premise.  Unconscious bias training my foot - how about CONSCIOUS bias training?  No wonder the proverbial needle hasn't moved in the positive direction over the last several years.

Time for companies and boards to do some root-cause analysis and have the hutzpah to be able to handle the hard work instead of focusing on the easy, low hanging fruit and patting themselves (and each other) on the back.

Peace.  Nose-to-the-grindstone from next week for several months towards the next release of our product.

May the code be with you.

Oh yeah - had some awesome ramen at Daruma Ramen in Austin about two blocks from the convention center.  Try it if you're in the vicinity.  Miso (with chicken), fried pork dumplings and green tea.  And they had a pretty mean purple sweet potato ice cream which I couldn't eat much of because of my nasty cold (thanks to my long flight back from Rekjavik right before the conference).