Announcing Our Third Keynote Ashe Dryden

At Open Source Bridge, we strive to let up-and-comers in the tech industry share their voice. We’re excited to announce Ashe Dryden as our third keynote speaker. This will be her first time keynoting a conference, and we’re sure it won’t be her last.

AsheDrydenAshe is an indie developer living in Madison, WI. She’s been involved with the web in some form or another over the past 12 years. Ashe is known for being outspoken about the need for diversity, inclusiveness, and empathy. She’s currently writing a book on increasing diversity within companies. When she isn’t discussing technology or its intersection with culture, Ashe is cycling, tweeting, playing board games, debating the social implications of Star Trek episodes, and waiting for her next burrito fix.

Ashe will be keynoting on Thursday, June 20.

Q: What first got you into open source? And why did you stay?
A: It was completely by accident. From the age of about 7 I knew that I wanted to be involved in the hard sciences, but life circumstances kept me from being able to pursue that. I’d been messing with computers from a youngish age and hadn’t really thought about doing anything with computers as a career until I realized it was actually a marketable skill.

As long as I’ve identified as being a part of the tech community I’ve been in open source. I went to a general tech meetup in Milwaukee almost 10 years ago and learned what open source was, why to use it, and how to get involved. As someone who’s always been really interested in the community aspect of everything, open source was super compelling to me. This was a group of people that were independently passionate about something that came together for a common goal to collaborate on something that was bigger than any one of them alone could have done. That really resonated with me and open source’s ideology is something that I apply to every aspect of my life. You could say I kind of live open source.

Q: How do you think your projects (or open source in general) are changing the way the things have traditionally been done?
A: It’s definitely inspiring people to be more transparent and people-focused. We spend more time talking openly about things and building upon each other’s ideas rather than hunkering down in a room in small groups. It’s allowing us to encourage participation from people who wouldn’t have otherwise been involved, which lends itself more to diversity of participants and solutions. Because open source has the ability to represent and be accessible to a larger portion of the population, it’s changing things at a much quicker pace than it’s more traditional cousins.

Q: What are you most passionate about now?
A: I’m really passionate about encouraging social change through open source and the communities surrounding it. As technologists, we’re in a unique position to empower people who wouldn’t otherwise have the access to education, to medical information, or to other resources that many of us take for granted every day. I’m especially interested in ways we help improve the quality of people’s lives through the flexibility, job satisfaction, and financial stability many of us enjoy.

To that end, I’ve been working on a number of projects that educate our communities about how we can change our modes of thinking to make tech more accessible to people from all backgrounds from all over the world. Things like community-based training, mentoring, conferences, and businesses have much more power in tech than they do other communities. I’m currently working on a book called The Diverse Team which helps businesses and each of us and individuals learn about what we can do to change the culture, interviewing, and outreach practices at our businesses to encourage more diverse applicants for jobs and more importantly keep them. Through empathizing and learning more about each other, as well as the unique problems that each of us faces, I hope to put an end to our dismal attrition rates among women, people of color, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups and see more people enter the field.

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