What have you done for diversity lately?

I have been promoting diversity in tech for about two years. When I started, I researched a lot, wrote loads, ran workshops and went out and spoke wherever I could. In my diversity keynote I joked that I was on a mission to solve diversity and then go back to hating Javascript. Needless to say that hasn’t happened, and my approach has changed a lot over time.

I’m in a great position to advocate for changes, and as a result my approach has mellowed to more behind the scenes efforts. In a couple of cases this has not gone well, in fact been pretty terrible. So sometimes it doesn’t feel like anything is changing and I have to remind myself it is all about a series of small steps in the right direction.

Money in Pockets

One big goal is to steer money into the pockets of marginalised folks in tech and I played a part in doing this in a couple of ways.

  •  Jenkins in Outreachy – Outreachy is a magnificent programme for getting more representation in tech and the Jenkins community rallied behind my efforts to participate for the first time. This round we had not just one but two interns accepted – so awesome to have folks being paid and supported to participate in open source.
  • Mentoring job-hunters – last year I worked closely with a few mentees to encourage them in their job hunts. One fellow mum in particular was looking to get back into tech, but really tentative about all the bs in interviews. I was able to connect her with a bunch of great folks for interview and eventually she found a job that was a great fit in a really rewarding area.
  • Sponsoring a high school student in Kenya – along with my alumni class, I continue to join forces to fund a secondary education for an underprivileged girl at my old high school in Nairobi.

Representation & the Rest

After money, representation is the next goal, and these were some of my highlights

  • After seeing Mandy’s excellent talk at Monkigras I was able to connect her with EclipseCon organizers and she went onto do inspire the audience there with her excellent talk on ‘Marie Curie, Open Source & Women in Tech‘.

  • I did a women in tech talk to the TechWomen Network at CapGemini, which I can only hope was as inspirational for the audience as it ended up being for me.
  • There was one particular big important meeting I had this year. A co-worker asked to join the meeting and I was super nervous about whether I could or should do that or not. In the end I just did it and the super important people in the meeting didn’t bat an eyelid, in fact they made her feel welcome, included her and she made probably the most significant contribution to the meeting. Good lesson for me.
  • For the first time I’m trackhost at QCon. I get to curate a whole DevOps & DevEx track. I was keen to first seek out excellent women speakers – and was so happy to have 4 outstanding speakers (actually I have hacked the whole track so I have 7 speakers across 5 talks!). In the process I have learnt I want to get better at finding speaker who represent other diversity axes.
  • I’ve made a conscious decision to not get annoyed by sexist comments or tweets on Twitter, but drawing inspiration from @manwhohasitall, I’m taking a more tongue-in-cheek (and fun) approach!

All the above was made possible by lots of great folks, super-allys and friends, so huge thank you to all who have enabled me. I love the photo on this post because to me it really does feel like the faces in tech are changing, albeit slowly. There is no quick fix to this, diversity work is a series of excruciating small steps for those willing to take them. Onto 2019. 

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