The Linux Foundation Open Source Summit was held recently in Prague. During the Summit the important issue of diversity in the opensource and tech communities was addressed.
It was inspiring to hear from young expert speakers about the opportunities and challenges they face in these communities. Similarly the topic of gender diversity was also discussed.
During his presentation, Hacking is Child’s Play Literally, Reuben Paul, an 11-year-old hacker and Cyber Security Ambassador, demonstrated how easy it was for him to hack into and change the code behind his Robotic Enhanced Vehicles, (R.E.V.) toy cars. Thank goodness he didn’t use real electronic cars for his demo. (Link to his keynote presentation and demonstration below).
Reuben is passionate about CyberSecurity, he is also helping to educate children and adults about CyberBullying and the power of technology. You can find out more about his work and his educational videos by visiting his website CyberShaolin.
Keila Banks, a 15-year-old programmer, web designer and technologist with her father Phillip presented How to Raise a Tech Family. They believe that the most overlooked group in tech is youth. They asked:
How diverse is your tech community if you are not including youth?
Keila and Phillip are implementing youth programmes in schools in the United States of America to teach real code. Currently they’re reaching out to 5th graders (10–11 years old). They want to know what topics are important to this age group. Their mission is to encourage and engage them in tech projects that are meaningful and relevant to them.
One challenge they identified for this group is the age restriction to use collaborative tools such as Slack. This issue was also highlighted by Reuben Paul’s father Mano during the Summit.
The Banks announced that they will setting up their own company soon. Their ultimate goal is to help youth to engage, understand, embrace, foster, gain confidence and help them to use technology to build a future for themselves and generations to come.
From youth to experienced developers, Linus Torvalds, Linux and Git creator spoke about the importance of maintainers in the opensource community. He acknowledge how valuable their expertise and experience are to the community. He welcomed more developers who have these skills to move into these roles.
During the Women in Open Source Lunch, sponsored by Adobe and a roundtable discussion on Computer Science Education and Diversity, hosted by Laura Reddy, CISCO, Galway and Emma Foley, Intel, Shannon, the challenges facing females in engineering and technology sectors were identified and discussed. Some solutions put forward were:
– Earlier introduction of science and technology subjects into the educational curriculum, e.g. elementary/primary level.
– Demonstrate how other industries such as fashion and the arts can benefit from technology.
– Deconstruct and challenge the current stereotypes and perceptions of programmers, developers and engineers in tech communities.
– Encourage more female role models and mentors to help young girls understand and overcome the barriers or preconceived ideas they might have about science and technology.
Open Source leader and member of the Linux Foundation Board of Directors Nithya Ruff believes that closing the diversity and gender gap in business is moving in the right direction – if not a little too slowly.
From an educational point of view Nithya agreed that the early introduction of computer science and technology into the curriculum would be of benefit.
In its commitment to expand diversity and reach out to underrepresented people in the open source and IT communities The Linux Foundation developed the LiFT Scholarship Programe 7 years ago. The 27 recipients of the 2017 programme were announced during the Summit.
It’s evident that this organisation recognises the value and importance of community and diversity. We live in a diverse world so it makes sense that this inclusive and mature approach is adopted in all aspects of our lives.
About The Linux Foundation:
The Linux Foundation is the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption. Together with the worldwide open source community, it is solving the hardest technology problems by creating the largest shared technology investment in history. Founded in 2000, The Linux Foundation today provides tools, training and events to scale any open source project, which together deliver an economic impact not achievable by any one company. More information can be found at www.linuxfoundation.org.
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