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The Python Software Foundation's (PSF) Director Carol Willing is ready for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women conference to start on October 14. One of the many highlights of her week will most definitely be the Open Source Day Codeathon, where some attendees will be making their very first contributions to open source.

Carol will be mentoring coders for OpenHatch and the Systers' Volunteer Management System. OpenHatch matches people with projects, and Systers is the largest tech forum for women in the world. Learn more about these projects, and the PSF's role at Grace Hopper this year, in this interview.

Carol also co-organizes PyLadies in San Diego, a meetup group for women in the area to learn about and practice Python. 

What made you decide to participate in the GHC Open Source Day codeathon?

Open source opens doors. Our world benefits in so many ways from the contributions made to open source. It empowers us to solve real-world issues and gives us the tools to make a difference. As an added bonus, I get to meet and work with so many amazing and creative people.

Have you attended GHC before?

Yes. I attended the past two GHC events in Minneapolis and Phoenix. I really enjoyed mentoring for OpenHatch at Open Source Day in Minneapolis as well as being a floating mentor in Phoenix and cheering on Shauna Gordon-McKeon during her open source workshop for OpenHatch last year.

Talking with other attendees of all ages and backgrounds is my favorite part of past GHCs. I love hearing the stories that others have to tell; the good, the bad, and the ugly ones. The stories of individual experiences are so important to me because they are genuine and down to earth. I have listened and gently encouraged those who have faced belittling whiteboard interviews or those that work day to day on a team as the only woman. I love seeing those with children attending since when my kids were younger it certainly wasn't encouraged. I love hearing the technical ideas and work that others are so passionate about.

One of my favorite moments was from two years ago in Minneapolis. At the end of the Open Source Day presentations, a young woman who participated in Black Girls Code shared her project and her wisdom. She enthusiastically shared something along the lines of: "If I had known coding was this amazing, I would have started a long time ago." It gives me reassurance that it's worth pushing forward and continuing to encourage each other to do what we find enriching.

Tell us about the open source project you'll have attendees work on at the codeathon.

Attendees will work toward making their first contribution to open source by working on OpenHatch projects and the Systers' Volunteer Management System. Since OpenHatch's mission is to help new contributors to open source, the attendees will have the opportunity to give back and help future new contributors. The Systers' Volunteer Management System has been a Google Summer of Code project the past two years, and attendees will be able to work on something that will help our busy Systers organize volunteers.

Attendees will work with mentors and other attendees to learn the basics of common tools of open source (i.e. Git for version control, IRC for communications, issue trackers, testing, and documentation). The attendees will also learn the many ways that individuals contribute to open source, like community management and outreach. We'll also have some special inspiration from a 2014 GHC OSD OpenHatch workshop attendee, Andrea Frost, who made her first contribution in 2014 and has shared open source with many others at her university.

What do you think are OpenHatch's top priorities in the open source community right now?

While I can't speak for all of OpenHatch's priorities, I believe that OpenHatch will always be an organization that fosters diversity and increasing participation in open source. We provide a safe place for people to ask questions when they are learning something new and help demystify how to contribute to an open source project and where to start.

What other open source humanitarian projects is your organization working with?

OpenHatch works with many projects and encourages new contributors to follow their interests. Whether a contributor's interest is open science, teaching others, helping out in a disaster, or working on open government projects, the volunteers at OpenHatch share their experiences and encouragement.

How diverse is your project's community?

OpenHatch's project community prides itself on being warm and encouraging and helping others learn to contribute to open source. Being welcoming to all individuals wanting to learn and contribute is something we embrace. Whether it's an Open Source Comes to Campus event, our website, our IRC channel, or words of encouragement, opening the door for another to participate in open source matters so much. I want to see as many people as possible build their confidence and skills to work on humanitarian open source projects since the world's challenges need your unique ideas, experiences, and talents.

Read more about Systers participation in the Grace Hopper Open Source Day.

GHC 2015

This article is part of the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing series for GHC 2015. The annual Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. GHC 2015 will be held October 14-16, 2015, in Houston, Texas.

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Jen leads a team of community managers for the Digital Communities team at Red Hat. She lives in Raleigh with her husband and daughters, June and Jewel.

1 Comment

Nice article. I'm anxious to learn more about OpenHatch and Python in particular. I also following Carol on Twitter thanks to your interview.

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