It's a problem that the tech industry struggles with in general, and OpenStack is no different: How do we create an environment that is open, inviting, and friendly to women, and how do we get more women involved?
At the OpenStack Summit in Paris, France last month, a panel was held to address these issues and more, entitled: Team Gender Diversity—Working with the Other 50%. Moderated by Beth Cohen, an industry veteran who is currently New Cloud Product Strategist at Verizon, the panel asked three OpenStack women at different points in their careers to weigh in.
First up was Diane Mueller of Red Hat, who is community manager for OpenShift Origin, who started out with some thoughts on the need for visibility. "If you don't see yourself in the room, it's hard to validate that you should be in the room."
Niki Acosta of Metacloud introduced herself with thoughts on how OpenStack Summit stacks up against other conferences. "On one hand, there's never a line for the women's bathroom. On the other hand, it is a little lonely, you know? You go to a conference like Grace Hopper and everything from food choices to childcare; they think of everything a woman might want or need or like at a conference. And so you come to a place like OpenStack, where there is an awesome Women of OpenStack group, and it's a little different."
The final panelist Alex Settle, a technical writer for Rackspace, gave her thoughts as a newcomer. "This is my first OpenStack Summit, and thus far my experiences with large groups of people have not exactly been what I would call positive, as a female." She recalled her experience in a previous job of trying to do tech recruiting at a university and having many people walk right past her. "Coming to a conference like this and seeing there are women, and it's really fantastic to see that there's an industry where it's growing, and there's a culture that is available, that's open, and we're wanted. That's a big thing."
As a male attendee, to be honest I was a little disappointed that there weren't more men in the room. Getting more women involved in OpenStack is going to take work and understanding from everyone in the community, regardless of their gender.
But don't take my word for it. Watch the video, which clocks in at about fifty minutes. You'll be glad you did.