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I’d like to take a moment away from your regularly scheduled storage revolution to talk about the Ada Initiative: who they are, what they do, and why it is important to open source storage communities. I’m also going to challenge you to raise $8192 for them, and I’ll match that dollar for dollar if you do. (If you already know who they are and support their work, go ahead and donate now.)
Research, experience, and common sense have demonstrated that diverse communities perform better: they are more dynamic, they generate better ideas, and they are more pleasant to be a part of. On the gender axis, however, most open source communities–including storage–are extremely homogeneous, with far less than 10% participation from women. It surprised me to learn that this is significantly lower than software engineering in general, where you find women make up about 30% of the community.
This frustrates me on two levels. First, open source is about building communities around code that bring together diverse organizations and interests in pursuit of a common goal. Why is something as fundamental as being inclusive of women a problem here? Our “open” communities should be setting the standard, not lagging behind when it comes to diversity.
Second, I am passionate about Ceph not because I think it is the end-all solution to everyone’s storage problems, but because it is playing an important role in breaking the stranglehold that proprietary vendors have over a large and increasingly critical industry. If we are going to win the larger battle of making the industry-leading, state of the art, de facto choice for storage an open platform, we will need all the help we can get: the incumbents are well-entrenched, they are better funded, and (it turns out) they are doing a better job of attracting diverse talent.
The Ada Initiative is one of the few organizations who is addressing gender diversity head-on, with a specific focus on open source and open data communities. You might already know about their successful campaign to get most open source conferences to adopt codes of conduct, which make women and other marginalized groups more likely to attend. Their AdaCamp conferences for women in open tech/culture, and their Ally Skills Workshops which teach men how to support women in everyday ways have proven to be extremely popular and effective both in welcoming and empowering women. These programs have proven so successful, in fact, that (for lack of staff and funding) they are currently unable to meet the full demand for them: all three AdaCamps this year sold out months early, and they are booking solid for Ally Skills Workshops for the next 3 months.
As Inktank and as DreamHost we were proud to be early supporters of the Ada Initiative. Today, I am proud to continue that support with a personal challenge to the open source storage community:
If you raise $8192 by next Wednesday, I will match that contribution dollar for dollar.
This challenge applies to the larger open source storage world, including the Ceph, Gluster, Swift, and Linux storage and file systems communities, and goes until Wednesday, October 8th, when the Ada Initiative’s fundraising drive ends.