This year I decided to self-nominate for the Drupal.org position for Director at Large. I definitely feel a bit crazy and a bit exposed. There are people that have contributed to Drupal for a billion years, why on earth should I put my hand up?
I've been involved with enough communities for enough years to know that sometimes putting your hand up provides that bit of support, sign of faith, or tick of approval that motivates others to keep going and keep connecting. I don't mind putting myself out on a ledge sometimes - in this case I thought if I put my hand up it might prompt a couple of other women to as well, but the noms closed before it was published online - dang, random solo female nom :)
I want to use the nomination period as a way to trigger some broader conversation; and there have been things with Drupal that I've struggled with over the past year. Part of the frustration has been finding a place after a big personal upheaval, and I have big visions but not the technical ability to pull off all the ideas. Sometimes it seems easier to pull up stumps and move to a platform that is simpler as a solo, but that also seems a cop out and a loss of potential, so I'll persevere.
I'm going to blog or vlog about anything that comes up in this process. Maybe I'll be the only one to listen, but it's an opportunity and kind of necessary in order to spread the word about my totes awesome skills and stuff.
If you have any questions or comments say hi on twitter or email me - I'm pretty darn chatty so I'll probably be super excited and blabber away. Awkward silences don't bother me so don't feel like there is pressure.
Should you be paid to sit on the Drupal.org board?
I do have question that came up from the twittersphere already "should you be paid to sit on the Drupal.org board?" This came up because I tweeted about the lack of women nominating; and a response was that not being paid was a barrier to women and people from diverse backgrounds nominating.
Coming from a background of supporting not for profits it's such an interesting question. Many not for profits have a high female representation (except at a high management level...) of staff and volunteers. In my experience on community projects I have and currently work on women by far do most of the work - happy to debate this out - and they are more likely to work in lower paying, less secure jobs - even in tech.
As a side note one of the biggest shocks from being really active on twitter in the recent months has been the underemployment of women that are amazing, who, if I had the capacity to hire we would create a super enterprise within a year and solve all the worlds problems. I'm not even joking.
The conflict between volunteers and paid staff or paying volunteers on boards is one that many organisations struggle with. I'm not going to comment on Drupal.org, I haven't seen enough of the community dynamic, and I'm someone that sits back and observes before I make anaysis. Also, the open source nature makes these more complex discussions, after all paid contribution to open source has issues in itself.
I will offer this though, where someone does put their hand up (or neck out) and their time in, there are ways an organisation can support paid work or experience coming their way.
For example I'd like to go to an event in my neck of the woods, and I would have liked to have spoken there, but I am without an organisation at the moment so i just can't do the self funded thing. However, I do rock, so I suggested that I could speak at a breakfast for women in (or not yet in) tech, or run training or workshops in Drupal, or provide someother paid service using my awesome expertise. It's not something I can easily organise solo from where I sit, but it would have taken very little coordination or triggering or promotion. I could have gone, done some cool work, helped some cool people, been paid for some of my time and we all would have won. This is the sort of opportunity, expansion of reach and community building that organisation do have the capacity to help facilitate, even as an nfp. Any person joining the Drupal.org board is going to have some awesome skill, knowledge or talent that would mean that there is a demand for others to learn from them and have some of their time - because that's why they are going to be voted in in the first place.
Engagement and retention is often about thinking outside of the box, sometimes just a little bit. And while open source is often a labour of love people have gotta eat, and the reality is financial insentive is an appropriate lever that helps people prioritise their already pressed time. From a women's perspective, knowing I'm working for money and not love definitely makes it heaps easier to ignore a massive pile of laundry or not feel guilty that once again I've forgotten dinner because I've been too busy. And I'd definitely pay to have breakfast and listen to someone in Drupal talk about something they were passionate about.