2014 Kernel Internship Report (OPW)

For the past year and a half, the Linux kernel has participated as a project under the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW). OPW provides a three month paid internship for women (cis and trans) and genderqueer or genderfluid people. After a month-long application process, the selected OPW interns are paired with an open source mentor to work on a project. As of August 2014, there are eleven Linux kernel OPW alumni, and five interns that are just finishing up their internships.

The results from the past three OPW rounds are stunning:

  • 1,092 patches accepted into the Linux kernel from OPW alumni and interns
  • Lines of code added and deleted: +32,327, -193,938
  • OPW was a top contributor for the 3.11, 3.12, 3.13, and 3.14 kernels

The sheer number of patches the OPW kernel interns and alumni have created is impressive. They’ve been in the LWN top kernel contributor statistics since the program started in the 3.11 kernel, and they continue to be a top contributor despite the lack of published data for the 3.15 and 3.16 kernels. Making it over the thousand patch mark is a cause to celebrate.  More importantly, the OPW kernel interns and alumni have deleted six times more code than they added. They’re deleting dead code and unused drivers, and thus removing bugs from the Linux kernel.

The statistics from the code development efforts from the OPW kernel interns and alumni are impressive. However, contributing to open source isn’t just about writing code. It’s about interacting on mailing lists, reviewing code, writing documentation, answering questions, working on graphical design, maintaining project websites, and so much more.

The main goal of the OPW internship program is to create a long-term relationship between the mentee, the mentor, and their open source community, in order encourage minorities to continue to contribute to open source. How are we progressing towards the goal of creating more women kernel developers? Are the women who complete OPW kernel internships continuing to work on open source projects after their internship ends? Do they find jobs where they can be paid to work on open source?

In order to measure this, I created a longitudinal study to measure open source contributions of OPW alumni. I’ll send out the survey every 6 to 12 months, and compare the results of the program over time. The most recent survey results from our eleven Linux Kernel OPW alumni shows the program is successful at encouraging women to continue to participate in open source.

Graph of the monthly FOSS contributions from OPW kernel alumni

At least monthly, OPW alumni are engaging and contributing to open source communities. Most of them participate through code submission, testing, and discussion on mailing lists, IRC, or forums. However, it’s interesting to note that a few of the OPW alumni have stepped into open source leadership positions, either by reviewing contributions, maintaining a project, or by managing a team of open source contributors.

Another exciting result of OPW is that some of the kernel OPW alumni are getting paid to work as Linux Kernel developers. Lisa Nguyen is working for Linaro on ARM power management, and Teodora Băluţă is working on Android kernel drivers for Intel’s Open Source Technology Center. Three other OPW interns have gotten jobs at companies like Citrix, Oracle, and OnApp, where they’re working on proprietary projects. Many people may be disappointed that those three OPW alumni aren’t working on open source, but I’m overjoyed that these women have found jobs in the technology sector. This fact is heartening to me because many of the women that participate in OPW were working in retail before their internship. To be able to move into the technology sector is a giant step in the right direction, and I’m happy that the OPW program could be a part of that.

It’s exciting to see five of the eleven OPW kernel alumni get jobs in the technology sector. Four of the kernel OPW kernel alumni are still working their way through Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees. Two OPW kernel alumni are actively looking for jobs. If you need to hire a junior kernel developer, please email the opening to sarah dot a dot sharp at intel dot com, and I will pass the job description onto our OPW alumni.

I will continue to coordinate the Linux kernel mentors and interns under the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW).  The next internship period will run from December 9, 2014 to March 9, 2015.  Applications for the next round open September 8th, and the Linux kernel contributions will be due October 31, 2014.  (Most OPW projects have a deadline of October 22, but the kernel project application process will be on hiatus from October 10 to 20 because many mentors will be attending LinuxCon Europe, Embedded Linux Conference Europe, and Linux Plumbers Conference.  Apply and get your kernel patches in early!)

If you’re interested in applying to be an OPW intern, you can find more information on how to apply on the OPW homepage, and on the OPW kernel project page.  Please note that you do not have to be a student to apply to OPW.  The only requirement is that you’re able to work full-time during the internship period, and that you are a woman (cis or trans), or a genderqueer or genderfluid individual.  This round, we’re also running a pilot to explore opening up the project to other under-represented minorities in tech, by allowing alumni from the Ascend Project to apply.  If the pilot is successful, we’ll be able to expand OPW to encourage chronically underemployed, LGBTQ, Latin@, and African American populations to participate in open source.

Progress on Graphics

I’m back from my 8-week sabbatical!  My roadtrip was a lot of fun, but now it’s time to get back to work.

In the month I’ve been back, I’ve been making good progress on learning about ChromeOS and graphics.   I have some really awesome, patient mentors (Josh Triplett and Chad Versace) who have been helping me learn about the ChromeOS build system and graphics.  At this point, I can build and install my own ChromeOS images and individual packages.  The build system is both complex and kinda crufty, like some sort of horribly rusty swiss army knife.  (Really, you have two separate build systems for subversion and git projects?)  However, I’m really impressed with ChromeOS test suite and the ability to kick off remote tests.  If only the Google developers would stop breaking the build…

On the graphics side, four of my patches got merged into mesa and piglit to add support and tests for a ChromeOS-specific EGL extension.  Chad has been creating graphics tutorials to introduce both Josh and I to userspace graphics concepts.  There’s a lot of new concepts to learn, everything from vertices and model transforms to relearning my Linear Alegebra.

Getting to work in userspace again has been so much fun.  Being able to use tools like strace and gdb to step through the code simply isn’t possible when you’re in a kernel interrupt service routine.  Some days I do miss hardware, poking at bits to make lights blink, but it’s really gratifying to see the tangible graphics work on my screen.  I’ve completed the GL version of “hello world” and completed Chad’s tutorial to make a triangle appear on the screen.  It was really satisfying to figure out how to make it spin around the Z axis.

Onwards to my next adventure!

I’m joining the Intel OTC ChromeOS differentiation team, and transitioning maintainership of the xHCI driver over to Mathias Nyman.

I’ve only been officially on the team for a couple of weeks, but I’m already playing with webGL tutorials and learning about vertices, shaders, EGL extensions, piglet tests, and loads more about graphics.  It’s been really great working with Josh Triplett and Chad Versace. I managed to join the team in time to attend their group quarterly event at Ground Kontrol.  We played pinball, 80′s games, and DDR for hours. :)

Donate to the Ada Initiative!

Want to support women in tech? Donate to the Ada Initiative!

For the last two years, I’ve been going to the conferences the Ada Initiative has put on for women in open technology and culture. It’s a really awesome experience to be in a room full of hundreds of techie, geeky women. There’s everyone from open source developers to security analysts, hardware hackers to fan fiction writers. Heck, I even met a documentary producer at the last AdaCamp in San Francisco.

One of the most important things I learned at Ada Camp was how to combat impostor syndrome. It’s basically the feeling that you’re not really that smart, that your accomplishments are just luck, and some day, someone is going to find out, and you’ll get humiliated/fired/shunned. It’s surprising the number of highly successful tech women who experience this feeling.  I used to have the worst case of impostor syndrome, until the women at AdaCamp taught me how to fight it.

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Summary on Civility

Peace, love, and Linux by flickr user amayita
The LKML thread where I stood up against verbal abuse has been winding down. I’ve posted a summary of my position. As I noted, I have been listening and learning from the arguments on the thread. In the course of the thread, my personal viewpoints have changed subtly, and I’ve chosen to push for change in areas where I think I might actually make headway. It wouldn’t be a discussion if no one changed their mind.

Nothing is going to change overnight in the Linux kernel community. As Casey Schaufler pointed out, I cannot force or demand change. I’m merely asking to discuss the possibly of change at the Linux Kernel Summit.

Thank you for listening and debating on this subject. Open discussion can only improve our community.

No more verbal abuse

I’m standing up against verbal abuse on LKML.  I will happily stand alone, however you can also support this cause.  Please speak up, either by resharing this post, or commenting on this post with words of support.  If you dare, you can also reply to my LKML email.

“Where do I put this fire? This bright red feeling? This Tiger Lily down my mouth? He wants to grow to 20 feet tall… I’m so tired of being shy; I’m not that girl any more. I’m not that straight-A anymore.”

Update

Examples of verbally abusive behavior on the Linux kernel mailing list:

Don’t be a Jerk: Responding to Ally Criticism

You are racist.  You are sexist. You are homophobic.

Now stop.  Analyze your response to my words.  Is your heart racing?  Do you feel tense, ready to fight?  Are you already in my comment section, blasting off a response about how you have plenty of black/gay/disabled/women friends and of course you don’t stereotype?  Are you ready to find holes in my argument and punch right through them?

If you want to be a true ally, you need to realize that this type of response is happening.  When someone questions you, or calls you biased, you immediately have physical and mental urges to defend yourself, to fight and stick up for yourself. This immediate defensive response is not conducive to having a well-reasoned discussion about whether you actually have a bias.  You are likely to shout at your ally, find excuses, and otherwise alienate them.  If you truly care about your allies, you need to learn how to suppress that response.

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Preventing Violence Against Women

Trigger Warning: Violence Against Women, Rape & Victim BlamingThis week, Facebook came under fire for not pulling several pages that promote violence against women.  Pages like “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs” remained up, even after they were reported to Facebook.  After a dedicated campaign to get ad sponsors to pull their ads, Facebook said they would retrain staff to take down pages that promote gender-based violence.

That’s not enough, in my opinion.  Sending the message that violence against women isn’t socially acceptable on Facebook is a step in the right direction.  However, silencing the conversation on social media does not change how our culture views violence against women and rape.  Thoughts on how to prevent rape and violence are below the cut.

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Linux Kernel Internships (OPW) Update

A month ago, Amanda McPherson and Greg Kroah-Hartman from the Linux Foundation asked me to coordinate an internship program aimed at getting more women to participate in the Linux kernel. In order to be considered for an internship, the applicants need to submit patches to the Linux kernel, and get them accepted.

The results have been amazing:

  • 41 women applied for 6 Linux kernel internships.
  • In 13 days, 374 patches were submitted, and 137 patches were accepted.
  • Diff stat for accepted patches:
    105 files changed, 3889 insertions(+), 4872 deletions(-)

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Hacking the Gender Gap

At AdaCamp D.C. last year, there was a really awesome session where we created a “Gender Gap Timeline”.  Basically, there was a timeline that included early childhood, high school, college, and career.  Each woman was given a pink notepad and a green notepad.  They recorded positive experiences with technology and the tech community on the green notepad, and put negative experiences on the pink notepad.  The page was placed at the woman’s age where the experience took place.

It was really useful to see the spikes in positive and negative experiences laid out in chronological order.  For the tech women who made it through their careers to attend AdaCamp D.C., there were a lot of good experiences in early childhood.  There were also some very common negative experiences, and even trivial negative experiences with a person of power (teacher, parent, mentor) stuck with the women.

Now the people who put on the session have made an online version, and it’s pretty awesome.  I think they may be looking for people to help out with it, so contact +Georgia Guthrie if you’re interested in hacking on it.

There’s also a background video if you’re interested.