2014 is well underway, and I’ve been more actively working on several projects after a busy 2013 that included selling my house, moving to another continent, getting married, and decompressing from all of the above!
While it was an exciting year for me personally, I’ve been frustrated with my lack of progress as far as learning code and other skills that will hopefully move me closer to a career in tech. My learning has been a bit sporadic, so in the fall I completed a MOOC to refresh my existing knowledge and build upon it. Now I’m coming back to some existing projects as well as starting some new ones:
Now I’m coming back to my work on Planeteria, the project that I started working on during my OPW internship a year ago, and am able to understand a lot of things that were a struggle for me when I started. That doesn’t mean I understand *everything*, but I’m at least feeling less overwhelmed.
I still struggle with scope. I’m a big-picture kind of person, and with Planeteria, there is so much to do. I have a long wishlist of things I’d like to improve, and as I start working on one, I find myself tempted to add other things to it, but I just keep reminding myself that open source is incremental. Baby steps.
Women in Free Software Planet Management
Planet management has been coasting for a while, with few changes other than adding the new OPW interns at the start of each internship round. The planet has exploded in size in the last year as the OPW program has grown in participation, which is incredibly exciting to read so many new and talented voices in the feed, but does require a lot of work to manage the feed. I’ve flagged some improvements that can be made to the site to help streamline the process of adding feeds, as well as making a few changes to the process for WFS administration with the help of a couple new volunteers, Siobhan Bamer and Aarti Dwivedi, for whom I’m ever so grateful (thank you!!). This year I hope to more actively manage this growing planet, and to start recruiting more bloggers doing great things in the FOSS community. I’ll be seeking requests for bloggers to add to the planet soon – so put your thinking caps on :)
I attended my first FOSDEM last weekend, which was a great introduction to the FOSS community here in Europe. I was especially curious to see the ratio of women:men and observe any gender dynamics to be aware of. This is partly due to my ongoing curiosity/personal research of what to be aware of as I enter this world as a woman. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were quite a few women there; I’m guessing around 20% but that is a very rough ballpark based only on my personal observation. However the ratio varied greatly from room to room. In the sessions I went to, I found that the Python track had only two women besides myself in an overcrowded room (perhaps because Pyladies isn’t as present in Europe as it is in the US – more on that below). The Mozilla dev room and Legal Issues tracks had a much higher ratio of women. I was especially thrilled to see such high attendance in the Women in Technology talk given by another OPW alum, Priyanka Nag, who only had 1/2 hour to address such a broad topic. I appreciated learning a bit more about WoMoz and hearing some of the questions and comments from the audience, but I’d love to see more talks at FOSDEM that explicitly address outreach both to women and more broadly. The only other talk I saw on this topic was Deb Nicholson’s talk “Non-Coders Wanted” which made the case for the value of non-technical contributors and had some great tips for how to recruit them to any FOSS project.
I appreciated the non-commercial nature and the accessibility of the event, being all-volunteer run with no registration fee at all. One shortcoming of a free conference is the lack of nametags, which can help facilitate conversations and connections with others at the conference. As someone still pretty new to this community, I could’ve really used them to identify people who would be especially helpful to talk to unless someone was introduced to me. That being said, I found most people to be quite approachable, and ended up striking up conversations with complete strangers and had some interesting and unexpected conversations as a result.
After benefiting greatly from the support of a fantastic community of PyLadies in Portland and then meeting many others at PyCon last year, I moved to Barcelona with the intention of helping facilitate a similar group in Barcelona. Concurrently, interest has been growing here in Spain. Last November, a group of ladies met informally during the first PyCon España to discuss starting a PyLadies on Spanish soil. We’ve held two meetups in Barcelona so far, and though it’s still just a fledgeling, it’s a fantastic group of people, and I’m excited to see where this will go. I’m especially inspired to see that women’s participation at PyCon has skyrocketed in recent years, in part due to the efforts of PyLadies in the US. PyLadies chapters are now starting to crop up here in Europe. Let’s see what happens!