The social and business value of having a diverse workforce is well documented. Equally well documented is the relative lack of women in technology, and in open source.
At Canonical we are working hard to build a globally diverse workforce. We are well positioned to do so, particularly building on our open source roots, and in areas such as supporting geographic diversity we are quite successful. However, in terms of gender diversity, women make up only 13% of Canonical and, slightly more encouragingly, 18% of our managers. It is disappointing to me that despite having one of the most welcoming, collaborative, flexible and meritocratic environments I have known, we still have such a large gender disparity.
As a woman in technology and a CEO, I am aware of the power of positive examples. While we need to learn from and eliminate the discouragement, barriers and illegal behaviour which continues to haunt women in technology, we should also celebrate the possibilities, highlight the opportunities and help illuminate a path for others to follow. In that vein, I’d like to introduce you to a few of the amazing women in technical leadership roles in Canonical.
Alexis Bruemmer is the Engineering Manager for Canonical’s Juju team – a team of brilliant engineers working to make cloud orchestration easy, portable and flawless. Alexis has been working in Linux since her graduation in 2005 and is passionate about open source. Prior to Canonical, Alexis was at IBM’s Linux Technology Center. Beyond her work as a professional, she is active in the community promoting STEM outreach as Vice Chair for Saturday Academy and long time member of Society of Women Engineers.
Ara Pulido is the Hardware Certification Manager at Canonical, leading the team that defines and ensures the quality bar for desktops and laptops pre-installed with Ubuntu. She discovered Free Software at college, where she was a founding member of the local LUG back in 2002. She joined Canonical 6 years ago in the Ubuntu Engineering QA team. You can follow her at https://twitter.com/arapulido.
Leann Ogasawara is the Engineering Manager for our Kernel Team, following a series of promotions at Canonical from Kernel QA to Kernel Engineer to overall team manager. She has been involved in Linux and Open Source for over a decade. Before coming to Canonical in 2007, Leann was at the Open Source Development Labs.
Pat Gaughen is the Engineering Manager for the fabulous Ubuntu Server and Openstack Development team. She’s worked in Linux since 1999, and has been in love with Operating System internals for even longer. Prior to Canonical, Pat was at the IBM Linux Technology Center.
Roxanne Fan is the Quality Assurance Manager in our Devices Commercial Engineering team. She has been working in data mining for software quality improvement and automation tool development for the past 12 years. She wrote her Masters thesis on the performance of innovative routing for wireless sensor networks in the Ubuntu system. Before Canonical, she was at Pegatron Corp.
There are of course many reasons why women join and succeed at Canonical – great technology, inspirational colleagues, the opportunity to innovate, and to fundamentally have an impact on people’s mobile and cloud computing experiences. Some of the less visible yet fundamental characteristics of Canonical which allow women to succeed in leadership positions include:
- A commitment to a respectful, collaborative, meritocratic environment sets the stage. One of the earliest manifestations of this commitment was encoded in the Ubuntu Code of Conduct. This clear statement of expectations has helped make the Ubuntu community a welcoming place for women, and applies in equal measure to Canonical.
- Our recruitment philosophy of ‘hire only the best people’, largely unrestricted by geographical boundaries, provides us with the opportunity to grow and support a diverse workforce. It enables us to consider candidates of varying locations, economic circumstances, gender, and physical ability. Like all organisations we want the best person for the role, and leveraging our expertise in distributed, multi-cultural environments allows us to widen our recruiting net significantly. Across all Canonical companies, our staff is 30% UK, 32% US, and 38% rest of world. Those percentages are approximately the same when looking at all staff or management/leadership roles, thus providing excellent leadership opportunities in sometimes underserved markets.
- We operate on a largely distributed environment and strive to support both home-based and office-based workers in equal measure. With 75% of our employees working remotely we have an extremely high trust environment, thereby empowering employees to integrate working life with home life. This approach has enabled us to retain men and women who otherwise may have left due to family demands.
I find the women above inspiring and am proud to work with them and many others of the same calibre. But we still have a long road to travel for our diversity figures to be where they should be. As with the root causes of the problem, the solution is multi-faceted and complex. We know that there is much more we can do to attract and retain greater diversity at Canonical, and are redoubling our efforts to do so. As a first step, come join us!