Breakfast working session highlights opportunities to accelerate women participation and visibility in OpenStack community


Whether the women considering the problem were developers, engineers or marketers, they all pinpointed that communication, leadership and mentorship were fundamental to getting more women involved.

At the OpenStack Summit Vancouver, the Women of OpenStack hosted several networking events, including a cruise around the Vancouver inlet and a breakfast working session for female attendees and male allies.


Anne Gentle, OpenStack Technical Committee member kicked off the morning with a brief introduction that led to three lightning talks. Topics included:

  1. Beating imposter syndrome, when women feel that they are unqualified to do their jobs, or the feeling of fraud led by Valerie Aurora, the director of training at the ADA Initiative
  2. Participating in the community as a strong, female technical leader led by Nina Goradia, cloud architect at IBM
  3. Becoming a successful women entrepreneur through mentorship and peer guidance led by Madhura Maskasky, co-founder and VP of Product at Platform9 Systems

The group of approximately 90 attendees then split into seven randomized groups, although all of the men happened to fall within group three. Each group used one of the above-mentioned topics to identify gender problems among the community and goals that could be implemented before the Tokyo Summit in October.

Approximately 10 percent of the Vancouver Summit attendees were female, so several of the groups discussed ways to increase the number of women in the OpenStack community, and support those who desire to grow as technical contributors or become a project team lead (PTL).


Workshops, mentorship and instructive webinars were among the solutions discussed, and Victoria Martínez de la Cruz, a software engineer at Red Hat and a travel support recipient for the Vancouver Summit, encourages women interested in OpenStack to jump right into the community to get started.

“Open source tech communities can be overwhelming, because there are a lot of people and the projects are complex, but be encouraged to join us because there is constant growth and learning,” says Martínez de la Cruz. “The OpenStack community will welcome you and you will enjoy working with us,” she says.

The travel support program was also identified as an opportunity to get more women involvement at the OpenStack Summit. Applications for the Tokyo Summit will be opening soon, and Comcast will also be donating the two round trip travel and accommodations from its Superuser Award to two deserving Women of OpenStack.

When it comes to participating in the OpenStack community, Madhura Maskasky, the co-founder and VP of product at Platform9 Systems, emphasizes the importance of finding a mentor.

“Use the Summits to come and meet in person as many people that could be your potential mentors, your guidance systems,” says Maskasky. “That’s one thing that can help in making progress in the community and getting towards some of those leadership positions and making an impact”.

Stay tuned for upcoming initiatives from the Women of OpenStack by joining the LinkedIn group and subscribing to the mailing list.

Allison Price