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Rikki Kite

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Sep 30, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

A couple of weeks ago I bought a box of cheerleader postcards and have been sending them out to friends and family members (and even a colleague). The pictures amuse me, and everyone loves getting postcards, right?

My mom was a high school cheerleader. She was also the lone woman in her high school's saxophone quartet, so you could say she was a well-rounded individual. I never mastered an instrument and I only lasted one wrestling match as our school mascot (and I still have an occasional nightmare about giant Blue Jays attacking me).

Even though I never tried out for the cheerleading squad in high school, I sometimes feel like a cheerleader in open source. I love feeling like I helped someone get noticed for her efforts or encouraged her to speak up and join a conversation. Someday soon I hope that I will have cheered loud enough or long enough or whatever enough to have encouraged a woman to attend her first open source event, or volunteer at an event, or even submit a talk for an event or write her first article.

Some of my cheerleader postcards are photos of a group of women. Some are the lone woman cheerleader. Other photos have men and women cheering on the same squad. Yes, some are clearly out-of-date, sexist shaving cream ads featuring women as cheerleaders and men as the football heros, the objects of all the cheers. And then there's the one postcard that's propped up on a coffee cup on my desk today with a single man, first raised in the air, and the words beneath his feet read, "He Feels Like Cheering."

I guess cheerleaders come in all flavors, and you can cheer in a group or all by yourself, regardless of whether you feel like you're on the winning or losing team, or even on a team at all.

Help a cheerleader out – Please send these questions to a woman in open source today and ask her to send her responses to me in email at rkite@linuxpromagazine.com:

1. Who are you? (name/brief bio)
2. What do you currently do in open source? What do you love about it?
3. You're speaking to a group of women from other fields who are considering switching careers. Why should they consider moving into an open source-related career? What should they know about the open source environment to prepare them for the transition from a different field?
4. You're speaking to a group of high school students (male and female). Why should they consider exploring career options in open source?
5. What question do you wish I'd asked? And how would you answer it?

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