DeLisa Alexander from Red Hat was up next to talk to us about women in open source.
How many of you knew that the first computer – the ENIAC was programmed by women mathematicians? DeLisa is here to share with us a passion for open source and transparency – and something similarly important – diversity.
Why does diversity matter? Throughout history we have been able to innovate our way out of all kinds of problems. In the future we’re going to have to do this faster than ever before. Diversity of thoughts, theories and views is critical to this process. It’s not just “good” to think about diversity, it’s important to innovation and for solving problems for quickly.
Why are we having so much trouble finding talent? 47% of the workforce is made up of women but only 12% are getting computer and information science degrees – and only 1-5% of open source contributors are women. How much faster could we solve the world’s big problems with the other 1/2 of the population were participating? We need to be part of this process.
When you meet a woman who is successful in technology – there is usually one person who mentored her (man or woman) to feel positive about her path – we could be that voice for a girl or woman that we know. Another thing that we can do is help our kids understand what is going on and what opportunities there are. Kids today don’t think about the fact that the games they’re playing were developed by a human – they just think that computers magically have software on them. They have no clue that someone had to design the hardware and program the software [I actually had someone ask me once what ‘software’ was – the hardest question I’ve ever had to answer!].
The challenge for us is to decide on one person that we’re going to try and influence to stay in the field, join the field, nominate for an award. If each of us do this one thing, next year this room could be filled with 50% women.