Ladies who Linux

Silicon Valley is an interesting place to be studying software engineering. Patricianly if you don’t come from a tech background…(like me). I live about 45 miles from where I attend school; so every morning I have to take a commuter train into the city. By 6 a.m. that train is filled with every tech badge imaginable — some I saw this morning, Salesforce, Oracle, Pinterest, Slack, Uber…just to name a few. How do I know…? Because it’s embroidered on everyones jacket, backpack, or other form of branded apparel. It’s a density of no comparison. It can be overwhelming most of the time, but sometimes I get to reap the benefits of of this close proximity to so many resources.

Last night I attended a Meetup at Dropbox. The theme of the night was ‘Ladies who Linux’. The Meetup caught my attention by the title. Not because it was specially for women, but because it was from a line from one of my favorite musical, song by one of my favorite actresses. The song is directly poking fun at women who are pursuing very little in life — the crux of their day being brunch. It’s funny and ironic choosing that for a title of a Meetup for women who are in fact doing the opposite, pursuing the world.

“Here’s to the ladies who lunch–
 Everybody laugh.
 Lounging in their caftans
 And planning a brunch
 On their own behalf. “
Elaine Stritch, from Stephen Sondehim’s “Company”

I joined a group of women who are working in the industry, and who all really enjoy Linux. That is an opportunity that only proximity can give you. All of these women, ranging in experience and personality, had such so much to bring to the table. Tammy Bütow, formally with DigitalOcean, now with Dropbox, organized the evening. She recently ran a similar group in New York when she was living there, but now that she has relocated to San Francisco, she decided to help create the space for women to come together and share experiences and knowledge based around the topic of Linux.

My biggest highlight was talking with Jessica McKellar — currently an engineering manager at Dropbox (although, she tends to wear many hats at the same time). Jessica is quite impressive, and she filled the space with an air of composure and strength. She has worked hard to get to where she is today, and I believe that her passion for low-level systems has been her driving force. Jessica is a director of the Python Software Foundation, and won the O’Reilly Open Source Award for here contributions to Python back in 2012. She’s written a few books on the subject as well. It’s women like her that give me the confidence to burst through walls when I come face to face with them. Right now Jessica is working on a video series on an introduction to Python. You better believe that I will be following that series to soak up as much as I can from a women who knows what she’s talking about.

I asked her for some advice for a beginner programer. Her one tip… contribute to open source projects. That is now on the top of my priority list.

– So here’s to the Ladies who Linux –

Changing the world one line of code at at a time.

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Originally published at codechickblog.com on February 17, 2016.