Here I was, with my analyst hat on, keeping my eyes open for key trends at O’Reilly’s OSCON 2018 in Portland last week so I could share these trends with our team, when something unexpected struck me.
While sitting in Lucy Wyman’s (Puppet) session on blockchain (which I thought was a remarkably lucid and well-put together explanation of the basics of blockchain), I spotted a young girl laying quietly on her dad’s lap while he was trying to soak up the basics of blockchain. That image was precious and it was an absolute ’awww’ moment for me. I hope that little girl took something away from the blockchain slides, or at least saw a female engineer up in front of a rapt audience doing an awesome job talking about a new technology.
I applaud the conference organizers for including a female mechanical engineering student of color (Camille Eddy of Girl STEM Stars) in the keynote lineup. Eddy shared her thoughts about bias in AI. I saw her later in the Expo area excitedly chatting with another female (presumably engineer) and going “yes, I’m studying to be a mechanical engineer” and hearing the other responding “oh wow, that’s great.” And Patricia Posey (Tech Superwomen Summit) who took a non-traditional path to tech, was insightful in sharing how to build a sustainable community.
To top it off, down in the Expo area, there were a few other father/daughter pairs visiting the booths, checking out the exhibits, and collecting the cool T-shirts and stickers.
There’s been a lot said about diversity and inclusivity, and some of us might even feel innudated with diversity messaging. However, I would make the case that diversity and inclusivity benefit all of us in technology (and beyond) and that we haven’t even come close to “doing too much” on that front.
If the next generation of the tech industry is to have equal opportunity, we need representation across all genders and role models for them, and we should continue to push to encourage an environment where diversity is celebrated.
The OSCON organizers did a great job of showing this diversity in their programming. I am heartened to see that things are changing. Kudos to that dad in the blockchain tutorial audience for bringing your daughter to the session. Perhaps we’ll see her launch her own ICO (initial coin offering) in the near future.