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Diversifying PyCon: the power of cooperative outreach

This post by Jessica McKellar originally appeared at the OpenHatch blog

Pystarphilly2 Python practice at PyStar Philly 2

I want to share an e-mail I received recently from a woman named Pam. It is a response to an e-mail I sent to the DevChix mailing list, calling on DevChixen to attend PyCon, the largest annual Python conference, and submit posters for the PyCon poster session:

 

Holy wow. I've had your email starred since you sent it, and only just now realized that you're the Jess who was at PyStar Philly.

 

Because of this email:

  • I decided to try to go to PyCon
  • I submitted a poster
  • Said poster was accepted
  • I applied for money with PyLadies to go
  • I'll hopefully be going, and it will be awesome

 

This is an amazing e-mail.

It is a response to an e-mail to the DevChix mailing list, which is "an international group of female programmers working to make the tech community a better place for everyone."

Pam attended the first PyStar Philly, an intro to Python event focusing on women in the same spirit as the Boston Python Workshop. She is a new Python programmer, and it is awesome that she had the motivation and community support to put herself out there and submit a PyCon poster as a first-time PyCon attendee.

PyStar Philly organizer Dana Bauer was inspired to run outreach workshops after seeing the success of other regional events under the PyStar umbrella. She and co-organizer Maneesha Sane have now run 3 PyStar Philly events, which are now integrated with PhillyPUG, Philadelphia's Python user group.

I was helping at PyStar Philly by way of the Boston Python Workshop. PyStar Philly reuses a lot of material from the Boston Python Workshop, and Boston Python Workshop staff have visited Philadelphia to help with all 3 PyStar Philly events. Pam was a staffer at the most recent PyStar Philly, which was sponsored in part by a grant to the Boston Python Workshop from the Python Software Foundation's Outreach and Education Committee.

She is able to attend PyCon because of PyCon's generous financial aid program and its partnership with PyLadies to have additional grants for women attendees. Significantly, the PyLadies grants have a later deadline than the main financial aid program, which gives newcomers to the community extra time and encouragement to make arrangements and register for the conference.

Let's summarize all of the groups involved in getting Pam to PyCon and presenting a poster:

  • The Python Software Foundation's Outreach and Education Committee awarded the Boston Python Workshop a grant to bring outreach workshops to new cities in the US, and PyStar Philly is one of the recipient organizations.
  • PyStar Philly and the Boston Python Workshop have worked together to bring recurring intro to Python events to her city, where she has graduated from attendee to staffer and is now an active member of the local programming community.
  • PyCon and PyLadies work together to encourage women to attend PyCon through a generous financial aid program.
  • The e-mail to DevChix is what pushed her over the edge to submit a poster and attend PyCon.

 


This is an incredible series of collaborations that are really making a difference in the Python community and the tech community in general. I am thankful that all of these organizations exist, and success stories like this are why I dedicate so much of my time to open source outreach. Thank you to everyone who made this story possible, and Pam, I'll see you at PyCon 2012!

-Jessica


Want to see an outreach event like the Boston Python Workshop or PyStar Philly happen in your city? Get in touch!

Going to PyCon? Join us for Diversity in practice: How the Boston Python User Group grew to 1700 people and over 15% women.

Thank you to the Python Software Foundation, PyStar, the Boston Python Workshop, PyLadies, PyCon, and DevChix for the use of these logos.

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