Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots

501: GNOME and OpenKids Africa with Regina Nkenchor

November 22nd, 2023

Host Victoria Guido and special guest Regina Nkenchor discuss the evolution and impact of Regina's work with the GNOME Project and OpenKids Africa. Regina explains how the GNOME Project is advancing its Global Inclusive Initiative, aiming to amplify diverse voices within the community and contribute to GNOME's development. She expresses enthusiasm for OpenKids Africa's efforts to incorporate technology education in rural communities, primarily through engaging early childhood teachers in understanding and teaching tech like virtual reality and robotics.

Victoria probes into strategies for sparking children's interest in technology, with Regina advocating for a co-creative, experience-based approach that includes real-life applications and interactive participation. They also touch on the challenges of balancing professional and personal commitments. Regina shares her ongoing journey to find balance by prioritizing and delegating while still maintaining her nonprofit work and her role at the GNOME Project.

They also talk about personal growth and community engagement. Regina advises newcomers to leverage open-source tools and be open to change while encouraging fair treatment within the open-source community. Victoria reflects on her experiences with Women Who Code, highlighting the importance of community involvement and networking for career advancement. Both emphasize the significance of creating safe, welcoming spaces in tech communities to foster inclusion and support, especially for women in tech.

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VICTORIA: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. And with me today is Regina, Board Vice President of the GNOME Foundation and Founder at OpenKids Africa. Regina, thank you for joining me.

REGINA: Thank you so much for having me. It's such a great opportunity to be here today.

VICTORIA: That's wonderful. So, what's going on in your world, anything fun or exciting happening?

REGINA: You know, I actually work in Sweden. And this period is actually one of the...let me say the peak period, beginning of a new year, beginning of a new year for my job. So, there's so much around projects, projects, projects. So, I wouldn't say this is more like a fun period because, after the summer, it's a different time here when you're working in Europe.

VICTORIA: Yes, working in Sweden must be so interesting. I'm wondering if you found any cultural differences that were really surprising about working there.

REGINA: Oh yes. I think there are so many cultural differences, one of it is...I come from Nigeria, and we have more, like, a particular way...we don't have a schedule for having breakfast. So, we can have breakfast anytime we want to, and we don't feel any problem by it. So, I could decide to have my breakfast by 12:00 or by 1:00 and have my lunch by 4:00 p.m., you know, it just depends. But here, it's more like you have to have your breakfast early. And by 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, you should be having your lunch. I'm still trying to get used to that one anyway.

And also, another cultural difference that I've seen here that is very, very obvious to me compared to where I'm coming from, and I think this is basically the work culture around here, so they have, like, a work culture of taking certain timeouts for vacations, which is not the same thing for me when I was working back in Nigeria. I mean, you could just pick your vacations anytime you want to have them. But here, it's more like you have to have them around the summer somehow so that you could basically have much fun and get the time required. So, I think these basic two things are things I've had to adjust to working here now for over two years, so yeah.

VICTORIA: So, more rigid timeframes for lunch, and breakfast, and vacation [laughs].

REGINA: Yes, yes. And, you know, it's quite funny because even when my colleagues are like, "Let's go and have lunch," and I'm not ready. And they feel like, "Are you okay? Like, you should be having lunch." [laughs] So, it's really rigid timeframe here, I would say that.

VICTORIA: I like that. You know, working in a remote world, it's so easy to just work through lunch or skip breakfast and just go straight to your computer and work. So, I kind of like it. They're looking out for you and making sure that you're taking your breaks.

REGINA: Yes. Yes. And it's actually also making me self-conscious. Because, you know, working daytime as a software engineer, you don't know when to eat. You don't know when to take a break. So, that realization, I'm beginning to more, like, take it more in and adapt to the culture here. Now, I'm always looking out for myself.

And when I wake up in the morning, I remember that I need to, you know, grab something, no matter how small. And then, when it's around lunchtime, I'm also preparing to have something as well. So, I think it's really good. And it also keeps me more healthy, I would say [laughs], compared to me just eating anytime I want to eat. So, I think it's a very good culture.

VICTORIA: That's wonderful. And I really want to hear more about your journey and your career. I first heard about you and invited you to the podcast when you were a speaker for Open Source Festival in Nigeria earlier this year. So, I'm curious how you went from being in Nigeria and how did you get into software engineering and get to where you are today with the GNOME Project and everything else.

REGINA: Well, thank you so much for that. I actually started my technology career path...that's about...I would say around about 10-11 years ago. So, I graduated with a public administration bachelor's, so a bachelor's in public administration. I really did not think that I would be doing what I'm doing today.

But so, when I graduated years ago, that was 2010, I needed more opportunity. And at the time, in Nigeria, technology was not something that was very available to everyone. What I mean is technology was mostly found around those that are privileged, those with more advantage, and all of that. And I wasn't around the set of people that had...those privileged to have computers in their homes or to have parents that has the money to buy these kinds of resources.

But I had always known as a child that I was very good with my hands. And I could remember when I was quite younger, I was the one that my dad would go to to repair his phone when it's not working well. So, I had this thing with my hands that I couldn't really explain that I like to repair things.

And so, when I graduated from the university, I got an opportunity to attend more like a program, a computer program, where they would teach stuff around IT for beginners and all of that. So, I enrolled, and when I enrolled for that particular program, I can remember they would show us more like a slideshow of different programs that you would like to learn, and then give you more like, insight into job opportunities available for those programs.

So, when I sat in that class as a beginner, and I was watching the slideshows, one of the courses that caught my interest was Linux administration and database administration, so I opted in for that particular course. And that was basically how my journey began. When I began to learn about Linux, I began to use it to basically manage databases; then, I was managing databases in Oracle. And I found that one of the things that I needed to learn was basically knowing how to administer the Linux OS.

From there, I began my first job. I worked as a faculty, more like a lecturer teaching Linux administration. So, this time, I had learned, and now I have to help other students learn as well. So, because of this, I began to use more of open-source tools. Now, just to do a little bit of realization check here, at the time when I was basically lecturing years back as a Linux administrator, I did not know that the concept open source existed. I knew that I was using Linux, but I did not really understand the concept of what open source is.

So, going forward now, as I began to use these tools and began to teach students how to administer databases and use more of Linux operating system tools, I somehow, a particular year, stumbled on the GNOME Project. Because GNOME is more like a feature of the Linux OS—it's a desktop application—I was already familiar with it. I just decided to make my contributions there anyway since I had been using the GNOME Project over the years with the Linux operating system.

So, I was basically fascinated to see that everything I had done as a user in my career was basically using open source to basically teach Linux and to teach my students. So, that's, in some way, how I got into technology, how I got into open source, and all of that.

So, going into how I found myself [laughs] in the Open Source Festival and how I found myself in GNOME Project, I chose to contribute to the GNOME Project, one, because GNOME is one of the basic...I'll say a very good feature of the Linux OS. It's a desktop application––allows usability in a way that Linux seems like a Windows operating system. And so, I decided to go into GNOME just to learn more about community, how the community looks like and also contribute my quota to outreach and engagement.

So, what it means is that there are different areas you can contribute to in the GNOME project, one of it is community and engagements, which means you basically help to do outreach, marketing, and events. So, I wanted to basically bring the GNOME project down to my location, and that's Africa, Nigeria. I wanted people to basically see the benefits of what the GNOME Project is to the Linux ecosystem and how they can also contribute to it. So, because of this, I created a chapter of GNOME in Africa. Right now, we have a community of GNOME Africa. And basically, that is how I started.

So, this particular Open Source Festival that just completed for 2023 was not my first, although I was a keynote for this particular one. I had attended Open Source Festival in 2020, where I shared as a workshop speaker, and I shared more about improving Linux experience for African users. And one of the demos I did was basically showcasing the GNOME Project to the users.

VICTORIA: I love that. And maybe you can say more about what the GNOME Project is and the kind of impact it can have on communities like the one that you're from.

REGINA: One of the things with GNOME Project, in some way, it's a desktop application, a desktop application that features in the Linux operating system. So, like you know, we have the Windows operating system, and then we have user-friendly desktop that allows us to be able to basically use Windows without going through command lines all the time. GNOME is like that desktop application to Linux operating system. So, it's a feature of distros of Linux that decides to basically use it.

So, what does it do to a community like mine? I think it is very clear, usability, and allows people as well to be able to contribute to the GNOME shell. Like any other open-source projects, one of the things is that you don't just become a user. But also, you can contribute to the innovation of that particular project, so not just having to be consumers of products but also become creators of those products by contributing to what the community is doing.

So, I think what it has done to a community like mine is basically given people the opportunity and the free will to become creators for something that is quite unique to the Linux operating system and allowing them to also become part of a community, bringing diversity to the global community globally.

VICTORIA: So, how does GNOME benefit as a project from having these additional communities in areas where they may not have had before?

REGINA: I think the key thing here is diverse voices. The key thing here is bringing in people to create more diverse GNOME Projects. And it's not a buzzword. I think creating better technologies is allowing for diverse users' views to be heard. So, before I came into the GNOME project, they had presence around Europe and the U.S. but not so much around Asia and Africa. What this means is that the design, the usability, the culture around the community is not going to be that that is very friendly towards these communities that they are not part of, these communities that doesn't really know what is happening in the GNOME Project.

So, having to bring in diversity, bringing in somebody like myself, community like myself, into the GNOME Project, what this means is that there will be more opportunities for GNOME to evolve around what they have in the previous years into something that is more global, something that is more inclusive, you know, a project that allows people to become contributors and designers of the GNOME shell.

So, I would say this: when I got into the board...this is my second time in the board. We've had several discussions around how to bring in diversity into the GNOME Project and also allow users, newcomers to feel welcomed in the GNOME Project. And that is a discussion and an action that is basically progressive here.

We are having these conversations because I have now come into the project. There is now space for the GNOME Project to see that we need to be more inclusive. We need to be more diverse in our approach, in our design, in the basically way we listen to users right now. So, this was not the case before I came in. So, it's basically just allowing more diversity into the GNOME Project.

VICTORIA: I love that. And I think there's been a lot of studies and evidence that have shown that projects and companies with more inclusive and more diverse voices perform better business-wise afterwards. So, it's not only, like, a moral imperative but just smart business decisions.

REGINA: Yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes.

VICTORIA: And I'm curious, as a community organizer myself [chuckles], what surprised you about the early stages of starting up this community in Africa, or maybe even joining the board of this community now that you've become there? Anything that surprised you in the process there?

REGINA: I think one of the first things that surprised me is that it was more like I was the only one that knows that GNOME exists [laughs]. So, it's me having to first always explain, giving onboarding sections to newcomers to basically explain to them what the GNOME Project is, and doing multiple demos to show how the GNOME desktop works within Linux.

And I thought that people would just know these things and people would just understand how the Linux project works. So, that basically surprised me because I had to always have to...even up until now, I always have to more, like, introduce, guide, and explain what GNOME is and help users to basically or newcomers basically decide if it is something that they will want to contribute to, right? So, that's one thing that surprised me.

And I think the second thing that surprised me was mainly about when I came into the GNOME Project; for a project that global, I thought that there would be some certain level of diversity around the projects. And I thought that I would see more of people like myself or more of people from maybe, you know, Asia or something like that. But I realized that that wasn't the case.

Instead, I remember when I was being introduced to the project, I was introduced to other two Africans, and that made us three. And it was shocking for me that there was less presence for Africans within the GNOME Project. And I think that's one of the basic motivation for me to build a community in Africa and to see that they know that a project like GNOME exists.

VICTORIA: I love that, and it reminds me of when I was running DevOps groups with Women Who Code and DevOps DC, how frequently you have to do just a 101, like, a 101, like, here's the basics. Here's the introduction. And getting really good at that and just knowing you're going to have to keep doing that and to bring in new people. Yeah, that's interesting; that was the point for you.

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VICTORIA: I'm curious; maybe we can dive more into open source in general and how it can be more inclusive and more diverse. Because I think what I see with open source is, you know, often, it's people doing maintenance on their own free time. They're not getting paid for it. And, of course, there's all the existing access and issues with enabling women to be more into technology careers. So, I'm curious if you have anything else that you think we should talk about with open source and how to make it more inclusive and have more voices at the table.

REGINA: One of the things here is...and I feel like discussion there is a progressive discussion as open-source communities begin to grow, open-source ecosystem continues to grow. So, one of the things here is, basically, having programs that is geared towards under-representation people within the open-source ecosystem. And this program, I feel like, should be a program that encourages some certain level of incentives, you know, stipends for people that are going to be contributing.

Because, like I said, in the past, open source has thrived more within Europe and the U.S. area. But in these areas, there are certain levels of opportunities that is presented. It's either the maintainer has good jobs, or they have projects that pays them on the side. So, they could easily give their free time to open-source contribution.

But looking at the economy side of things and problems we have within areas like Africa and Asia, if you see people contributing or you want people to contribute to open source, there must be some other level of motivations that would get them to basically contribute to your project. So, there are programs like Outreachy. Outreachy is basically a program that helps women to contribute to open source, and they are paid a certain level of stipends at the end of three months, at the end of their contribution.

We need to have more of such programs to encourage inclusive contribution into open source-projects. Because this way, we get more people that would not necessarily have an opportunity to become open-source contributors to come in to contribute. And also, [inaudible 18:29] more diverse voices in the open-source ecosystem.

Another thing here is also that we need to also talk about one of the problems within open source at the moment, which is that we have less women representation, and I'm very glad you're very deep within community and Women Who Code as well. So, you will basically relate with this one. So, there are less women within the open-source ecosystem. And even the women that are contributing––they have challenges within the ways they are treated amongst maintenance. They have challenges even with how to prioritize what they are doing and to be able to also give their time to open source.

So, these all challenges we need to begin to, you know, address them by giving voices to women within open source and helping them to solve some of these problems that they have within, you know, the communities that they are serving in.

Another thing is to have representation in leadership, and I really cannot stress this enough. When I mean representation, it's having more women leaders because this is where the gap is here at the moment. I think the Linux Foundation had a particular research; I'm not very sure about the year. But it shows that we have about 93% of men in the open-source ecosystem, and that tells you what is left of women, you know, the percentage of women that we have within the open-source ecosystem. So, there's a whole lot of work we need to do to bring in more inclusiveness, to bring in more women into the open-source ecosystem. I'm not particularly sure about the exact statistics for that research, but I know it's around that range.

Another thing is that we should encourage communities, open-source communities, to have separate channels where diverse voices can basically have their views about their community, so whether it is having to have a pool of questions geared towards, how do you think we are diverse? How diverse are we in this community? What can we do better? You know, taking metrics of your community is one way we can also bring in inclusivity into the open-source ecosystem.

One of the last thing here that I would mention is events also––open-source events, has to also be conscious around people that are attending their events, around the different races, the different genders. This matrix needs to be taken to basically help to solve and bring more inclusivity into open-source community and open-source events.

VICTORIA: You raised a lot of really great points there. And I won't even try to recap them all because I think I'll miss them [laughs]. But I think you're spot on with everything. It resonates with me, especially, like, working through Women Who Code; what you'll see is there's lots of people interested in joining. There's a drop-off rate around the mid-level of your career because of some of the things that you mentioned, the way that they're treated in the environments and in the communities, and not seeing a path forward to leadership. So, I think you're spot on with everything that you said there.

And I'm curious; I want to make sure we make time to also talk about OpenKids Africa and your founding of that. And what was the goal or the idea behind it?

REGINA: The idea behind it was basically my journey into tech. If you recall, I said I started my journey into tech after my bachelor's degree in public administration. And I felt like I could have done more with technology if I was aware about technology a bit more earlier in life.

So, I wanted to create something and to build something that would give children an opportunity to have better career choices and possibly become technologists, or software engineer, or robotics engineer, or developers in future. But giving them the opportunity to know that this set of careers exist and they could actually make their choices from it.

So, I grew up in Nigeria, like I said. And at the time I grew up, the trending careers were doctors, engineers, lawyers. And my parents actually wanted me to be a lawyer because, at the time, they believed that I was very good at arguments [chuckles]. I could argue a lot. And that basically quickly transcends to I can be a better lawyer. And also because lawyers, in those times, lawyers were very respected in the society. Now, don't get me wrong, lawyers are still respected. But at that time, it felt as though being a lawyer or being a doctor is the only way you're ever going to have a career in Nigeria.

Having to feel like I disappointed my parents because I couldn't get into law...I had a diploma. I did a diploma in law program, but I did not get into my degree. So, I had to do something close, which was the public administration I took. Having to go through those whole process in my career and then finish my bachelor's and realizing that I was a bit better in a technology career, I felt like it was a bit late for me and that I would have taken a better chance at my career choices if I had known about technologies earlier.

So, this is the motivation of creating OpenKids Africa is basically giving children an opportunity to know what they can do with technology, to know how technology cuts across different careers, and to make them realize that technology is no longer an option in your career choices; it's something that needs to be part of your career journey, whether they want to become doctors, whether they want to become technologists in future. Whatever they want to become, they need to have this basic foundation to thrive. So, that's basically what brought about OpenKids Africa.

And my target is basically children in rural communities. And so, we are teaching children in rural communities several skills: how to code, how to understand basically foundational courses within technology. Recently, we went to different schools and giving them an experience of how virtual reality looks like. And it was really fun for these children because, like I said, they are in rural communities. They don't even have these opportunities in the first place, and except it is provided to them here. So, that's basically what we're doing. We're giving children in rural community an opportunity to experience technology and to make better career choices in the future.

VICTORIA: I love that. And so, you found that the kids are really excited about learning about computers. Do you feel that the parents agree that technology is a good path for them to follow and study?

REGINA: Well, I think that that's another part of OpenKids Africa. So, when I started OpenKids Africa, I wanted to explore the rural community and understand, basically, what are the unique cases that we have here? So that's part of those...I was exploring, basically. We found that some of the children would tell us that, "I like this, but my mom or my parent would not allow me to do this. They will not allow me to know how to use computers or to become maybe a technologist in future because my mom or my dad thinks I should be a doctor," and all of that.

So, we had to remodel our strategy in a way that we now go to parents' associations in schools in rural communities. And we talk to them about technology, benefits of technology, and how they can encourage their children to learn technology, and also the future career choices for their children. And when we do this, when we speak to parents, we see the excitement of "Oh, so, my child can actually become this with this technology thing." And we also give them safety measures because, of course, there's so many things on the internet here. And there's safety tips for parents to know about, even if they want to allow their children to basically use computers and all of that, child control and all of those things.

So, by talking to parents, we've realized that we have to have a two-model approach in OpenKids Africa, where we don't just teach the children and encourage the teachers to learn more about technology, but we also have to talk to the parents to allow their children to basically explore technology careers in the future, and also, showing them the opportunities that it will pose to them. So yeah, to be honest, this is one of the surprising things that I found, and it has continued to surprise me as a founder of OpenKids.

VICTORIA: Well, that's, I think, a very common thing for founders is that you think you have one set of users, but there's actually another one [laughs] where it impacts you.

REGINA: Exactly. Exactly [laughs].

VICTORIA: That's wonderful. Are you excited about on the horizon with either the GNOME Project or OpenKids Africa?

REGINA: I will start with the GNOME Project. Right now, we are looking towards things like the Global Inclusive Initiative. And it's basically an initiative that we are looking to put together all the communities we have globally, giving more voices to diverse users to be able to contribute into GNOME. That is something on the pipeline that we're looking to plan.

And I'm also excited for OpenKids Africa. So, right now, we are exploring how to get teachers in rural communities involved with what we're doing and basically train them separately as well to know the benefit of technology to children. So, the target teachers here are teachers that basically...early child education teachers and helping them to understand how to teach technology to children, and how to inspire children to appreciate technology innovation we have around the world, innovations like virtual reality, you know, robotics, and all of that.

So, I'm really excited about that one because I feel like if you can tell the teachers how these things are and the benefits, and then they can better pass the message across to the children, making our work more easier when we have workshops and demos to do in schools, yeah.

VICTORIA: And I've actually gotten this question quite a few times from people, which is, how do you get kids interested in learning [laughs] technology and learning how to code?

REGINA: I think it's basically having a practice that is more child-friendly, co-creative. So, co-creation is basically, you are not the only one doing it. You're involving the children in it as well, and you give them the real-life experiences. So, for instance, when we went to talk about virtual reality to children, and we showed them what virtual reality does in the presentation, we engage with the kids. We make them give us their own ideas.

We even go as far as allowing them to draw what they see and give us what they think about it. But we don't stop there. We get virtual sets and show them exactly...give them a real-life experience of what virtual reality is. So, children are very, very creative, and they also have a very fast mind to pick pictures. But not only that, they can also store experiences very, very fast. So, we utilize every area that makes children excited in our workshops. After we are done, we do practices, and we give them gifts as well for engaging in those practices. So yeah, we just co-creation [laughs].

VICTORIA: Wow. And you're doing so much because you have a full-time job. You're on the board for GNOME Project, and you have your non-profit, OpenKids Africa. So, how do you find a right balance in your life of work, and extra stuff, and your regular life [laughs]?

REGINA: Honestly, I would say that the word balance I wouldn't use balance for me at the moment because I feel like I've not basically found the balance I'm looking for, but I've been able to prioritize. So, what that means is that I've been able to know what is important part-time and know when to take certain engagements. So, my full-time job is more, like, a priority right now because, of course, we need a job to be able to sustain our lives. So, I take that as my priority.

And I have different schedule of days for other things like the GNOME community and working with my team in OpenKids Africa. So, I would say I'm quite lucky to have a very good team. And also, being part of GNOME board, the commitments are not as demanding as you would expect, you know, maybe a regular board. There are fixed schedules on things, and they have flexible time for contribution as well.

I'm also part of the GNOME Africa community. And I recently just on-boarded a community manager because I realized that I need more, like, to take a step back so that I don't get burned out and all of that. So, I think it's basically prioritizing for me at the moment to gain the balance that I'm looking for. So, I think if I have a conversation with you maybe months after now, I would be able to know what balance feels like. So, I'm really experimenting with prioritizing at the moment.

VICTORIA: We'll have to check back in in a few months and see how things are going. But I think that's a very honest answer, and I appreciate that. And I think that probably relates to how a lot of people feel, honestly, even having less on their plate that it's hard to find that balance. So, I appreciate you sharing that. And I wonder, too, if you had any advice for yourself. If you could go back in time, either when you were first starting on your journey or when you were first starting on either of these projects, what advice would you give yourself?

REGINA: I think one of the things...I will talk about first starting on my technology career. I didn't have the opportunities that many young people had at the time because I didn't come from a background where my parents had the finances to basically give me the opportunity to learn technology the way I wanted to. But, I was able to make do with the resources I had at the time to learn and to basically grow.

So, an advice I will give to my younger self and to anybody that wants to come into technology that do not have the resources, I would say leverage open-source tools as much as you can because now I realize that that's basically what helped me. And also, allow yourself to grow; it will always get better.

Advice I would give to somebody coming into an open-source project like me at the GNOME Project. I think that one of the things that...understand why you're contributing to that project, and always seek to be treated fairly, always seek to be treated nicely. And also treat other people nicely and fairly as well. I think if we have these both balance, we'll have a better, healthy community within open source. And don't be scared to share your view. Don't be scared to basically be yourself wherever you are found in the community that you're representing.

And if I would like to add: OpenKids Africa, for me, if anyone would's, I would say, it's still young because we are going, I think, about our third year now. So, I will say it's still young. But what I would say to any founder that wants to basically found a non-profit or do something in the society, I think, is just to get your motivation, understand why you're doing them, and be open-minded to what you'll learn along the way. That's it.

VICTORIA: I think that's great. Yeah, I love that. And I like that you mentioned that there are open-source tools out there. I'm trying to use those more, and I think I always try to iterate that for people, too, is, like, there's free training. There's free resources. There's free tools. And there are lots of people who want to see you succeed, no matter your background, or where you're from, or what you look like. So, I think that that's a really powerful message. So, I appreciate that. And do you have anything else that you would like to promote?

REGINA: I think before that, I would like to learn more about the Women Who Code. As a community builder, what basically surprised you the most?

VICTORIA: Yeah. So, what I loved about Women Who Code is that it was really aimed at helping women get started in careers in technology and maintaining careers in technology. So, I think what was interesting for me...I think I started doing it back in 2017 or 2018, and I just loved it. I loved going to a tech meetup with a room where it's all women [laughs]. Because, normally, and I'm sure you've had this experience, you go to a tech meetup, and you're maybe one of two, at the best, of women in the group. I just really enjoyed that.

And I've been really surprised and happy to see how the women, including myself, who started running the meetups, and doing trainings, and helping other women learn how to code have really advanced in their career and become directors, or engineering managers, or really senior contributors in different companies. So, I think that that was a really interesting and surprising thing for people is, like, well, if you want to grow in your career, it helps to be active in your community and to be someone that people know and to have those connections.

And I think it still surprises me to this day how my network that I got from investing in all of those meetups and all that time is still paying off [laughs]. Like, I could still, like, reach back into my network and find someone who is an expert on a particular subject or works at a company that I want to talk to or something like that. So, I think that that's been a really wonderful aspect of it.

REGINA: Wow, that's quite interesting. And I really think, also I agree with you. One of the beautiful things around communities and meetups is basically networks, the people that you get to meet, the people that you get to know along the way.

VICTORIA: Absolutely. Yeah, and those are the people that you want to keep working with. So, it helps you find jobs. It helps you find people to hire if you're hiring. It's worth it. Like [laughs], it can feel like, ugh, am I really going to go to this meetup [laughter], like, after work, after a long day? And, you know, maybe the topic is even something I'm not interested in. But it does pay off if you keep showing up and continue to invest in it. Yeah, I think that's smart.

And make people feel safe, too. I think that was a big part of it is, you know, going to a meetup and meeting someone maybe like me who's nice and friendly and wants to hear your voice. I think that has a big impact for people, especially if they're, you know, the only woman at their company. And now they have a whole set of friends [laughs]. That's, yeah, how powerful that can be for people.

REGINA: Exactly. Exactly. And you just said one of the most important things, and that's basically making people feel safe, making them welcomed as well. Interesting. Thank you for sharing that one because I was quite curious, and I wanted to really learn more.

VICTORIA: Yeah, I'm very lucky. And we actually had the CEO and founder of Women Who Code on our podcast lately. So, you're in good company [laughs].


VICTORIA: Yeah, it's wonderful. Do you have any other questions for me?

REGINA: My last question, and I'm going to be asking again that I will be inviting you on my podcast as well [inaudible 37:32] [laughs]

VICTORIA: Yes. Of course, yes. Absolutely. Send me the details. I'd be happy to join.

All right. Well, thank you so much again for joining us. I really appreciate your time.

And for our listeners, you can subscribe to the show and find notes along with a complete transcript for this episode at If you have questions or comments, email us at And you can find me on Twitter @victori_ousg.

This podcast is brought to you by thoughtbot and produced and edited by Mandy Moore.

Thank you for listening. See you next time.


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