Who am I? I am someone from a single parent household that grew up in Decatur, Georgia. I went to a predominantly black elementary school and predominantly white high school. The high school program was called M to M. This was better known as, the Minority to Majority. Why are any of these facts important? These facts are important because it was the foundation of my life. This foundation allowed me to learn how to navigate and in out of lanes. It allowed me to understand the challenges I would face ahead on my journey as women in tech.
In 2000, I got married and moved to an island in Hawaii. Hey you want to talk about cultural shock then let’s talk. Over the years, I have lived in Hawaii, Washington State, Texas, Virginia, and now Florida. I have meet a lot of people from various backgrounds and cultures. During my travels I happen to teach myself Linux. Fast forward 16 years and I am still in the field. This field has been predominantly white with some exceptions. What I can say about this journey is that it has been more than interesting. The initiatives they have today did not exist then. So if you think it is hard now imagine then. I love the fact that we now have these initiatives but that is all they are without any follow up.
I have always gone into interviews and jobs knowing that I would be the only one. As time went on you accept it because you need to eat. I saw no woman, no color, and no woman of color. If that all sounds the same to you then you look like the people who interviewed me! Hey, please do not take this as a rant on racism, tech diversity or even inclusion. Or maybe you should but this is my journey! I am giving you what I have seen, my story.
Being passed over for a promotion after teaching someone the job I had been doing for three years because I did not have a degree. I was intern isn’t that the purpose of an internship? However, life goes on.
So you set out to get the degree because you do not ever want that to happen to you again! You get the degree! Funny thing is I already had a full time job in Linux at the University of Washington. My Computer Engineering degree had nothing to do with Linux. To this day, I have never seen a 4-year degree program teach you the following (brief list):
o Hardening Servers
o Nessus Scans
· Storage Administration
o Direct Attached Storage (DAS)
o Network Attached Storage (NAS)
· Cloud Computing
· Automation (Bash, Python, Perl)
These are just a few skill sets that most System Administrators need. What they do not tell you is you also need another set of skills as a woman:
· How to press forward when you are qualified. (Be strong!)
· How to move upward when no one upward looks like you.
· How to deal with racists and sexist jokes.
· How to be bold but to deliver in a tone that is comfortable for them to receive.
· How to not fall in the stereotype of being a angry woman, even though you were just yelled at me because you felt it was okay.
· How to deal with the fact they just do not like you because of the perception of you.
· How to get your money and know your worth. (Research as much as possible!)
· How to take the lane given and exceed expectations. (This is not proving them wrong but building your confidence.)
With all that being said this is why Women In Linux (WIL) was formed. WIL was formed to show you there are other lanes in Information Technology out there. Women are in those lanes but its few and far between. As women, I hold us accountable for some of this as well. We do not do a good job of extending the olive branch. We also do not do a good job of receiving the olive branch either. We have some work to do on ourselves, BUT THAT IS OKAY!
PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE WE HAVE WORK TO DO. Then let’s find a resolution(s) to the problem. We need to speak at the technology conferences, we need speak to each other at the conferences, WE NEED TO BE AT THE CONFERENCES.
Finally, I close with our mission. #thefollowup #daretochange
Women in Linux mission is to address actionable solutions to bridge the gaps in tech diversity initiatives.
• EXPOSE: Expose women to Linux centric careers
• INSTRUCT: Create and combine lanes that already exist
• FOLLOW UP: Continuous monitoring and support
• BRIDGE: Financial gap of learning and income
WIL is working on introducing women to other areas of technology. Hey not everyone wants to code. Not everyone wants to stay a programmer. You still need code but if you experience burn out you should know your options. #daretochange
WIL initiatives (brief list):
• Making the transition to tech
• Staying in the field
• Finding your Zen (dealing with income and misogyny issues while finding your niche)
• One-day tech events that showcase different avenues after the foundation of Linux has been learned
• Linux as a foundation and Security
• Linux as a foundation and Cloud (Openstack and CoreOS)
• Linux as a foundation and System Monitoring (Zabbix)
• Linux as a foundation and Middleware (JBOSS)
• Linux as a foundation and Puppet
Please feel free to send us tweet, email, or visit us at www.womeninlinux.com.