Allies can dispel the closed-minded thinking that spawned the infamous Google memo, says Women of OpenStack member Amy Marrich. Here’s how to get involved.


The Women of OpenStack (WOO) recently launched a call to grow the number of allies. One of WOOs most active members Amy Marrich considers herself a jack-(or should that be jill?) of all trades: she’s currently an instructor at the Linux Academy and acted as director of operations as well as senior dev ops engineer. You can find out more about her on LinkedIn, Twitter or find her on IRC at spotz. Superuser talked to her over email about who should become an ally and what it entails.

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

I’m kind of a jack-of-all trades. I’m a core reviewer for OpenStack Ansible, one of the Upstream Institute mentors and instructors at the Boston Summit, I’ve been one of the Women of OpenStack mentors, was a member of the Diversity Working Group, I’ve led the Git and Gerrit lunch and learns for the past five summits and currently I’m a track chair and serving as one of the officials for the User Committee elections.

What inspired you to become so active in WOO?

The Women of OpenStack is a great group — it’s a mix of all aspects of the OpenStack community. There’s people from different projects as well as different skill sets all with a love for OpenStack. I feel it’s important to cultivate diversity in any technical community and the Women of OpenStack works hard to bring new people on board and not just into our group but into the community as a whole. When I first joined the group we had some really strong women who have since retired or moved on from the project and I’m just doing my part to fill their shoes.

Let’s talk about the WOO recruitment efforts — who makes a good ally and why?

A good ally is anyone who is supportive and believes women are just as capable as men with technology. I know everyone has heard about that internal memo from Google on gender differences. This is exactly why it’s important to find supportive allies that can help dispel that sort of closed-minded thinking.

A good ally can be of any sex or orientation who believes in technology equality for everyone. They are positive and supportive with good critical feedback and mentoring to help a person who, on their own, feels reluctant or afraid to contribute.

Allies help people grow and become confident in their own skills and in the community. It’s important for the community to have diverse ideas and approaches to problems that can improve OpenStack as a whole.

Is there a minimum of hours that people should plan to dedicate?

The Women of OpenStack meet every other week for an hour, but how involved someone wants to be is totally up to them and whether they want to be involved in other projects or activities we might have going on. I know the Mentoring folks have their own meetings and do a lot of work pairing people up.

You bring a lot of training experience to OpenStack – any advice about getting started for newcomers?

I think the most important thing is not to be afraid to ask questions whether it’s on IRC or a mailing lists. Take advantage of any of the community provided trainings whether its Upstream Institute, the Git and Gerrit Lunch and Learn or the new onboarding sessions they held in Boston and I hope are repeating for Sydney. Also I’m really excited about the new portal Mike Perez is working on.

There are always a lot of interesting debates in the OpenStack community – which one is the most important, now?

One of the important debate this cycle has been around documentation. There was a significant change and reduction of contributors mostly due to companies re-organizing their strategy with OpenStack and open-source contributions.  The document team has done such a great job the last few years building out enterprise quality open-source documentation around OpenStack. Keeping high-quality documentation lowers the barrier for new people to understand the project, how to use it and contribute to it.

Anything else you’d like to add:

Just that the Women of OpenStack is a great group to be part of and the opportunities are endless!


Superuser is always interested in community content, get in touch at