I’m at the Grace Hopper Women in Computing conference this week. I’ve been looking forward to it for months. However in the past couple of weeks I’ve had so many “women in open source software” or “women in free software” conversations – some good and some very draining – that I was half way dreading coming to a conference where the whole focus would be women in computing for days. Turns out I was worried for nothing.
The energy at Grace Hopper is awesome! Everyone is excited, people go out of their way to introduce themselves when they sit next to you and everyone is talking about real and exciting challenges. And there’s plenty of people to meet – there are 1600 people here, most of them technical women! About half are students and about a quarter of the attendees are presenters too.
Last year while I was here I met the HFOSS folks and the conversation led to three interns working on GNOME projects last summer. Who knows where this year will lead? So far I’ve had interesting conversations. For example, I spoke to the woman who works at iRobot on reaching out to kids to encourage kids to get involved in robotics. (You know, the folks that make the Roomba.) Anybody do robotics programming using GNOME?
I’ve also spoken to other women about how to get more women developers on a project, how to cultivate more positive energy on a project or serve productively on a board. I’ve also had some interesting conversations about careers. One woman I talked to wondered if she should switch careers because she’s not passionate about coding and everyone keeps talking about how passionate they are about their jobs. Turns out she really likes user interfaces.
Thanks again to the Grace Hopper folks for sponsoring my travel to this event! It’s a great event celebrating and encouraging technical women. Next year I’d like to see more presence from free and open source software projects. (I am on an open source community panel this afternoon.)
There’s a very active conversation about the Grace Hopper conference on twitter.