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Diversity on Display at the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver

BY Nicole Huesman ON Jul 16, 2018

Collaboration across diverse communities is key to building the technology that enables the experiences around us. Nowhere was this more evident than the OpenStack Summit in Vancouver, the home of Open Infrastructure, this May. It was exciting to see different communities focused on cloud, containers and container orchestration, edge computing, networking, and more come together.

The ongoing influx of individuals with varied talents, expertise and perspectives is critical to the health of these communities and our industry as a whole. That’s why this summit featured a strong lineup of activities geared towards engaging diverse contributors, giving the event a positive energy.

The summit kicked off with a Diversity Happy Hour, sponsored by Red Hat, followed by activities on Monday focused on the importance of mentoring. A speed mentoring workshop, sponsored by Intel, paired an exceptional panel of mentors with enthusiastic mentees for multiple 15-minute rotational rounds.

That afternoon, I was thrilled to moderate a panel discussion with Kendall Nelson, upstream developer advocate at the OpenStack Foundation, and Victoria Martinez de la Cruz, software engineer at Red Hat, on mentor programs that bring new contributors into the OpenStack community.

These programs included Outreachy, Google Summer of Code (GSoC), First Contact SIG, Upstream Institute, Long-term Mentoring and Speed Mentoring. The OpenStack community offers so many ways for members to help grow the community through mentoring, with options designed to fit various time and resource commitments. Amy Marrich, from Linux Academy, led a discussion about a new cohort-style format for the OpenStack Long-term Mentoring Program.

Tuesday brought two inspiring activities, focused on awareness and action around closing the representation gap in the tech community. Nithya Ruff, head of Comcast’s Open Source Practice, led a panel discussion among open source leaders who shared their challenges—and progress—in tackling this issue. Panelists included:

  • Bryan Johnson, founding director at Black Boys Code
  • Joseph Sandoval, cloud platform manager at Adobe
  • Amy Marrich, OpenStack course author at Linux Academy and OpenStack Diversity Working Group lead
  • Jennifer Cloer, founder of the Chasing Grace Project

A screening of the first episode of the Chasing Grace docu-series, which followed this panel discussion, was thought-provoking, shining a light on the pay gap in the industry.

The week concluded with a networking luncheon, sponsored by Red Hat, during which Margaret Dawson shared data points from the ongoing, Intel-sponsored OpenStack diversity research conducted by Bitergia. Margaret’s address was followed by a round of table topic discussions including an evolution of the Women of OpenStack’s mission, effective collaboration across communities, and more.

As I reflect on my time spent in Vancouver, it was uplifting to see both the collaboration across communities to advance technology, as well as the focus on growing these communities through activities that aim to attract and retain diverse contributors. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with amazing individuals across the community to help build diverse, inclusive teams that enable a future we can all be proud of.