“And the Open Infrastructure community? 10/10 would recommend to a friend”

This post is part of the Women of Open Infrastructure series to spotlighting the women in various roles in the community who have helped make the Open Infrastructure successful. With each post, we learn more about each woman’s involvement in the community and how they see the future of Open Infrastructure taking shape. If you’re interested in you are interested in being featured or would like to nominate someone to tell their stories, please email [email protected].

This time we’re talking to Victoria Martinez de la Cruz from the OpenStack Manila project. She tells Superuser about how the Open Infrastructure community has helped her to grow and excel at her role in the community.

What’s your role (roles) in the Open Infrastructure community?

Currently, I’m mainly focused on contributing to feature development, code enhancements and bug fixing for the Shared Filesystems as a Service project for OpenStack (Manila). I also enjoy mentoring, so I’ve been helping with the mentoring efforts for the Outreachy program.

What obstacles do you think women face when getting involved in the Open Infrastructure community?   

There are two factors that I think lead us to this situation: on one hand, I believe that people in tech tend to have the idea that some tasks are harder than others. For example, some people think that web development is easier than drivers development, something I believe is a mistake. Historically everything related to infrastructure administration has been considered a hard branch of computing. On the other hand, we know that there is a tendency for women to aspire to perfection and try to know everything before applying for a position or for taking the lead on a task. And, the harder the task is considered to be, the less women there are. Both things lead to the fact that not many women feel they can contribute to the projects we have in the OpenInfra community. I do believe there are women with the expertise and potential that we need, it’s just a matter of reaching them, and giving them opportunities. Some effort I think is being done by many companies in the community and also by other inclusion efforts such as Outreachy. We could do more though, for sure.

Why do you think it’s important for women to get involved with open source?

It gives them exposure, something that I think is critical in this market: exposure to real-world use cases to learn from, exposure to other people from different backgrounds, cultures and levels of expertise to work with, and exposure for them to become well known in the field, to expand their networks, and find which is the next step in their careers that challenges them and takes them to the next level.

Efforts have been made to get women involved in open source, what are some initiatives that have worked and why?

Yes, there have been many efforts, that makes me very proud of my community. One of the initiatives that worked out very well has been Outreachy, and I think because it helped underrepresented individuals with no experience contributing to open source to their first steps. Guided by mentors, the interns learned how the processes in open source are and how they could contribute to. They also gained experience with the tools and technologies we use. Several good contributions have been made by our interns since they could contribute fresh perspectives and new ideas. Some of them continue to be involved with the community because they could connect with hiring companies and take a full-time role. This is something I’d love to see more. There are not so many remote entry level positions around for our interns to apply to, and I think that is a big loss, because we invest in people with high potential and then we let them go.

Open source moves very quickly. How do you stay on top of things and what resources have been important for you during this process?

It’s definitely one of the biggest challenges we face. I believe that having an open and sharing community is key. It’s easier to keep up with things by sharing curated information between the collaborators than going ahead and reading all the material that is around. Material is good, but we are constantly being overloaded with details and stuff, which I think is good when you have the time or you actually want to focus on that specific topic. Otherwise, a summary by your peers is all that you need. That has been my strategy this last couple of years: I get updates from the community (either over IRC, reading the mailing list or watching presentations at conferences) and if I need to get a better understanding of something, I just go ahead and dig into the sea of articles and blog posts.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in open source? What do you wish you had known?

DO IT! No hesitation. I’m very grateful to everything that open source, and especially the Open Infrastructure community, has given to me: my colleagues, the technical experience I gained, my personal and professional growth. All experiences are different, for sure, but you need to go ahead and try. And the OpenInfra community? 10/10 would recommend to a friend.

I wish I had known how to organize my time better. I struggled a bit with that in the first couple of years. The amount of things happening at the same time was too much for me, and the context change used to kill my productivity. Plus, working remotely is not so straightforward as some people might think. Nowadays, taking the advice from several people from the community, I learned how to organize myself better and end my days feeling good about what I have accomplished.