Open source and communities essential in spreading diversity

Why do you care so much about getting more women into the technology space?

I have a daughter, and I see the huge opportunity in tech for her. She was only one when I started at Red Hat, so she’s been hearing from me all these years about how important it is to consider tech and she wouldn’t even consider it. This reinforces with me that it is a huge issue, and I think about the talent that we’re going to need as business to be successful in the long term, and it’s a huge risk that all businesses face – there are not enough women in the field.

DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer at Red Hat
DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer at Red Hat

Is there a responsibility on people like you to address this problem?

I feel a deep responsibility. It’s interesting, because when I started with Red Hat I was in the legal organisation and I didn’t notice there weren’t that many women. But when I moved over to the people team and I looked at the data it was a bit of a revelation – there were hardly any women here and I had no idea. From that point forward, it’s been something I’ve been thinking about – how can we can counter this?

When we were really small there was limited resources to do anything different, but as we started to get bigger and more successful, I started having more latitude to really start diving into it and exploring possible solutions.

>See also: The importance of diversity in tech – Red Hat Summit 2018

Every couple of years we’re adding another programme or initiative – into this gender diversity drive – based on the research we’re getting from Stanford on what actually makes an impact. I’m really proud that we’ve been able to do things all along the pipeline at this point, but it’s going to take a long time before there’s more women available. It is something we are really committed to.

How can open source bridge the gender gap in tech?

My team members are outreaching via open source to foster girls, women and minorities to make their first contributions of code into open source communities. That is hugely important, because it’s scary to make your first contribution. That’s one example of all these little pieces of the puzzle coming together to help bolster the numbers of girls entering tech and women in tech.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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