I’d like to take a moment to tell you a little story, if you would indulge me.
A few weeks ago I was having a professional discussion with a much admired colleague and she commended me on my technical skills. Without conscious thought the words that flowed out of my mouth were, “Oh, I’m not really technical, I just talk a good game.” I wondered, briefly, why she looked so surprised (and maybe a little perplexed) but I honestly didn’t give it another thought until last Friday when I was reading this article on the Ada Initiative’s website. My first thought upon reading through that post was one of dismay for these people who felt (or were made to feel) like impostors in the tech world.
I managed to force myself away from the Ada site and I went back to work on some software mock-ups and parsing feedback on technical specifications. Unbidden, my brain chose to replay the conversation from a few weeks ago – “Oh, I’m not really technical, I just talk a good game.” The penny dropped. I *am* one of those people. And I need to stop.
I will be utilizing Ada’s Impostor Syndrome Training. I’m going to stop downplaying my skills and contributions in my field not only for myself but also for my employees, my colleagues, and the next wave of librarians and open source enthusiasts. While my skills and career path likely mean I will never be a wage-earning software developer, that doesn’t mean that my knowledge in my area of open source and my technical skills are not important or valuable. Those skills were hard won and I am harming more than just myself by pretending otherwise – I’m perpetuating a problem in our culture.
I’m proud that the Evergreen community adopted a strong Code of Conduct policy (driven by the Ada Initiative’s work) and takes harassment seriously. And I feel fortunate to be a part of open source communities which are very welcoming places for people of all skill levels and backgrounds. But that is not everyone’s experience and that is another crucial reason why we need Ada. To drive this point home, for donations made before Tuesday, September 16, Andromeda Yelton, Chris Bourg, Mark Matienzo, and Bess Sadler have pledged to match up to $5120 of donations to the Ada Initiative made through this link.
It’s important to note that despite a community’s or organization’s kindness and desire to be diverse, most are not. In order to change that reality we’re going to have to actively work on supporting the organizations and initiatives that can ensure our communities continue to grow in diversity and inclusiveness. I’m grateful that the Ada Initiative exists for myself and my colleagues. I hope you agree that their work adds immeasurable value to our open source communities and I invite you to join me and librarians everywhere in supporting the Ada Initiative’s mission.
–Grace Dunbar, Equinox Vice President