Last week I attended my first OpenStack Summit, which was hugely successful in helping me get up-to-speed on the latest developments in open source. But during my dozens of conversations with some of technology’s top thinkers, I couldn’t help but wonder: Where are all the women?
As it turns out, only 9 percent of Atlanta Summit attendees were women—which is an improvement over the 7 percent who attended November’s Summit in Hong Kong.
The reason these numbers matter is because amazing things can happen when we diversify the ideas, life experiences and backgrounds of the tech workforce. As both a consumer and producer of technology solutions, I know that value is added when the makers represent the users. If the tech user base is so diverse, then shouldn’t the pool of producers resemble that diversity? Rackspace thinks so.
To drive diversity at OpenStack Summit, Rackspace co-hosted a well-attended Women of OpenStack mixer that brought together some of the brightest developers, engineers, architects and writers in the open source space. The goal was to create a forum for women and their allies to exchange knowledge and resources—and to help technical women find strength in numbers.
It’s important to note that these types of networking events are open to all genders, and in Atlanta many men attended to support and better understand the concerns of their female colleagues. One of those attendees was Oz Akan, a Racker who said he supports social mixers that help women “find strength and feel empowered.”
Another male Racker, Jesse Keating, said these types of networking events are important to show the eagerness of tech companies in including women in the open source conversation.
“We’re setting the expectation that women are not only welcome, but encouraged at tech companies,” he said. “Monocultures are cultures that die. A culture with variety has a greater ability to thrive.”
The video above from Rackspace videographer Jacob Forbis captures why and how women-specific networking mixers can help improve the relevance and reach of the entire tech industry.