Women in Open Source Tech Roundup: March 2019

Diversity. Inclusion. Challenging misconceptions. Gender equality. These are the topics in the tech industry that are being increasingly examined by organizations who are stepping up to change the percentage of women in the industry — offering them education, training, and mentoring opportunities. Globally, it is estimated that only 17% of technology jobs are occupied by women and of those, only 5% of women occupy leadership roles. A geographical breakdown of the number of women in leadership roles in the tech industry shows this, as North America accounts for 18.1%, Latin America for 13.4%, Africa and Europe for 11.2%, and Asia for 11.5%.

The numbers could look bleak (or encouraging, depends how you look at it), but the stories are always thought-provoking, warm, and inspirational. At WSO2, our story of inclusion is one we want to share. This March, we launched a video campaign starring the women at WSO2 who develop our open source products. Open source in general has a diversity problem yet interestingly, 33% of employees at WSO2 are women. When we say we’re open to integration, we mean it literally and figuratively. That means we want to create a workplace culture which strives for inclusion – be it hiring new team members from different parts of the world or hiring even more exceptional female candidates and giving them the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

We introduced some of these fantastic individuals in our teaser trailer.

This blog gives you the chance to get to know them better.

Seshika Fernando

We kicked off our campaign by featuring Seshika, who is the head of financial solutions at WSO2. Seshika’s had a versatile career so far – started in software engineering, before deciding to try something different – business analysis in the banking industry. She then returned to the tech industry (citing boredom). For Seshika, everything hinges on ability and capability. Her belief is that the company she works for must align with her personal values.

Sherene Mahanama

Sherene started her career as a technical writer at the age of 19. She didn’t necessarily plan on becoming a technical writer – rather, it was something that she came across due to her interest in writing and technology. At present, she works in identity and access management, and is very interested in GDPR and adaptive authentication (topics she even blogs about). Sherene thinks that we must all fight to maintain the highest standard of quality in our work and doesn’t believe that cultural misconceptions should discourage girls from exploring career paths that they want to pursue.

Some interesting facts about Sherene…

  • Pet peeve: Fake rumors
  • Childhood ambition: To become an FBI agent
  • If she weren’t a technical writer, she’d be a food taster!

Sithumini Senevirathne

Sithumini was very interested in learning more about programming and software development. So she started learning programming by herself, became a Sun Certified Java programmer, and developed a set of software. All this before she even began attending university! Sithumini thinks we must all establish a personal brand and collaborate to succeed. She advises women in particular to view their colleagues as potential collaborators (rather than competition) and work towards achieving a common goal.

Some interesting facts about Sithumini…

  • Pet peeve: People who spend more time on their phone during dinner or lunch than they do interacting with the people present at the table!
  • Childhood ambition: To become a news presenter
  • If she weren’t a software engineer, she’d be a university lecturer.

Natasha Wijesekare

This is Natasha’s first job. Natasha doesn’t think coding is easy – so she starts her day with a list of to do’s and if she’s managed to complete all of them, she’s satisfied. If she surpasses her daily list, then she’s absolutely ecstatic! Notwithstanding challenges, Natasha loves what she does. One of her favorite projects is Ballerina, a programming language, and she values the learning opportunities provided by this experience.

Some interesting facts about Natasha…

  • Pet peeve: People who talk over you when you’re clearly still in the middle of the sentence!
  • Childhood ambition: To become a scientist
  • If she weren’t a software engineer, she’d be a lecturer.

That’s it for March. Expect to see more stories in April on our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

We’re also keen to hear from women who work in open source technology all over the world and feature them in our campaign. Know anyone who has an awesome experience to share with us? Or perhaps you’re interested in being featured yourself (don’t be shy!)? Get in touch with me (vichitra@wso2.com) and Ishara (isharan@wso2.com) to start a conversation on how you can play the starring role in one of our videos or blogs!

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And before we call it a wrap, great projects happen because of great team members. Shout out to Ishara and Vidyas, without whom the Women in Open Source Tech campaign wouldn’t have been possible.