Leadership and Inclusion in the Open Source Community
KubeCon + CloudNativeCon sponsored this podcast.
When asking someone what makes a solid leader in today’s open source communities, the answer often varies. In this podcast, we discuss leadership and the ways in which a community can and should do to better help underrepresented minorities become leaders in open source.
Joining us for this discussion is The Cloud Native Computing Foundation director of ecosystem Cheryl Hung, Microsoft director of open source initiatives Ashley McNamara, Aqua Security Technology evangelist Liz Rice, and Two Sigma engineer Leah Petersen. TNS podcast producer Kiran Oliver hosted this episode.
They all started their journeys in open source at different times, with very different goals in mind.
Rice noted that, “For me, I was a developer for a long part of my career doing not open source software. At some point, more and more things, particularly in the infrastructure work and the distributed systems world were being done [in] open source, and it just seemed like a natural progression. I don’t really remember ever making a conscious decision. Suddenly everything I was doing pretty much was in the open.”
McNamara started her journey by contributing docs to OpenStack and OpenShift, and wanted to do more, taking up learning Python to achieve that goal.
Hung explained that she too did not begin her career in the open source world, citing KubeCon as a “big reason” for her interest in open source. “I came to KubeCon as a diversity scholar, and got into all the events, got into the community and speaking, and doing more of that, and that’s how I built it up.”
When asked what qualities they felt make a good leader in today’s open source community, all had varying answers, but the core theme remained the same.
“We focus on contributing without an agenda. Lots of large companies focus with an agenda, so I think that that’s important,” McNamara said, noting that she, in particular, focuses on upstream contributions at Microsoft.
Hung went on to explain that “Communication skills are so, so vital. This is a global community and you need to be able to reach out to people who are from very different walks of life, doing very different things, in different companies, and be able to have that empathy and understating what people really need and want.”
As the conversation continued, the subject evolved to how the broader open source community can best support those around them from an underrepresented minority group, so that they may become leaders and maintainers of open source projects. The panel also offered valuable insights into how to improve the industry as a whole, so that underrepresented minorities in tech can better access leadership opportunities.
“I think those initiatives where you can go and connect with a small group of people who have similar experience to you, and you feel like you can reach out to them in the future” are invaluable, said Petersen, “At the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon Diversity Lunch and Hack, we tackled a lot of these topics with round table discussion, also hands-on Kubernetes, and pair programming.”
McNamara noted that individuals can contribute on their own, going on to emphasize the importance of, “having leads who are mostly white men be ambassadors for underrepresented people.”
McNamara then went on to address the issue of diversifying the selection of speakers at conferences, and how those individuals who are often asked to speak can help those in underrepresented communities to get their voices heard. “Pro tip: I do this, I get asked to speak at conferences all the time, so do the same speakers, year after year after year. How many times do I need to speak? So I pass that opportunity on to somebody else in an underrepresented minority, so they have the opportunity to have the stage.”
In this Edition:
1:05: How did you get started with open source?
3:35: What do you feel makes a good leader in today’s open source community?
5:07: If you’re a developer wanting to get into the open source community, what skills should you focus on, what tools should you pick up that will make that path easier in some way?
8:47: How do you think the community can work towards improving that pipeline for those underrepresented minorities in tech to get to those leadership positions?
10:34: Discussing the 2017 GitHub Open Source Survey.
15:30: Recognising that contributions to open source don’t have to just be code.