Positive results from Outreach Program for Women

In 2013, Debian participated in both rounds of the GNOME Outreach Program for Women (OPW). The first round was run in conjunction with GSoC and the second round was a standalone program.

The publicity around these programs and the strength of the Google and Debian brands attracted a range of female candidates, many of whom were shortlisted by mentors after passing their coding tests and satisfying us that they had the capability to complete a project successfully. As there are only a limited number of places for GSoC and limited funding for OPW, only a subset of these capable candidates were actually selected. The second round of OPW, for example, was only able to select two women.

Google to the rescue

Many of the women applying for the second round of OPW in 2013 were also students eligible for GSoC 2014. Debian was lucky to have over twenty places funded for GSoC 2014 and those women who had started preparing project plans for OPW and getting to know the Debian community were in a strong position to be considered for GSoC.

Chandrika Parimoo, who applied to Debian for the first round of OPW in 2013, was selected by the Ganglia project for one of five GSoC slots. Chandrika made contributions to PyNag and the ganglia-nagios-bridge.

Juliana Louback, who applied to Debian during the second round of OPW in 2013, was selected for one of Debian's GSoC 2014 slots working on the Debian WebRTC portal. The portal is built using JSCommunicator, a generic HTML5 softphone designed to be integrated in other web sites, portal frameworks and CMS systems.

Juliana has been particularly enthusiastic with her work and after completing the core requirements of her project, I suggested she explore just what is involved in embedding JSCommunicator into another open source application. By co-incidence, the xTuple development team had decided to dedicate the month of August to open source engagement, running a program called haxTuple. Juliana had originally applied to OPW with an interest in financial software and so this appeared to be a great opportunity for her to broaden her experience and engagement with the open source community.

Despite having no prior experience with ERP/CRM software, Juliana set about developing a plugin/extension for the new xTuple web frontend. She has published the extension in Github and written a detailed blog about her experience with the xTuple extension API.

Participation in DebConf14

Juliana attended DebConf14 in Portland and gave a presentation of her work on the Debian RTC portal. Many more people were able to try the portal for the first time thanks to her participation in DebConf. The video of the GSoC students at DebConf14 is available here.

Continuing with open source beyond GSoC

Although GSoC finished in August, xTuple invited Juliana and I to attend their annual xTupleCon in Norfolk, Virginia. Google went the extra mile and helped Juliana to get there and she gave a live demonstration of the xTuple extension she had created. This effort has simultaneously raised the profile of Debian, open source and open standards (SIP and WebRTC) in front of a wider audience of professional developers and business users.

Juliana describes her work at xTupleCon, Norfolk, 15 October 2014

It started with OPW

The key point to emphasize is that Juliana's work in GSoC was actually made possible by Debian's decision to participate in and promote Outreach Program for Women in 2013.

I've previously attended DebConf myself to help more developers become familiar with free and open RTC technology. I wasn't able to get there this year but thanks to the way GSoC and OPW are expanding our community, Juliana was there to help out.