Announcing Tuesday’s Keynote Julie Pagano

Open Source Bridge has three talented keynotes this year: Julie Pagano, Lukas Blakk, and Frances Hocutt. We’ll be sharing short Q&A sessions with each of the keynotes throughout this conference week.

julie_paganoJulie Pagano is passionate about diversity in the tech community. She works with Girl Develop It in Pittsburgh, PA. She helps organize Steel City Ruby Conf, and she also organizes online support groups for techies who need help with public speaking or dealing with imposter syndrome. Somehow, she also manages to find time to work her day job as a software engineer, focusing on front-end development and user experience.


Q: What got you into open source?

A: My participation in open source largely started with my role as a teacher for Girl Develop It (GDI), an organization that helps teach women how to code. I am the chapter leader and one of the primary teachers for the Pittsburgh chapter. GDI’s materials are open source, and a lot of my open source contributions involve modifying and creating curricula for our chapter.

Q: What trends are you excited about?

A: I am excited about the trend of more open source projects working towards making their communities accessible to a wider group of people. This includes things like contributor guidelines that make it easy to get involved, codes of conduct to encourage positive interactions, and identifying beginner-friendly bugs and feature requests. Many new people want to get involved in open source, but are unsure where to get started. On the flip side, active open source maintainers can get burned out because they don’t have enough help on their projects. This trend seems like it can help both of those groups work together to grow open source communities and make them more sustainable.

Q: What’s been the best advice you’ve gotten and given over the years?

A: It’s a bit cliche, but I think the best advice I’ve gotten is to focus on what I care about and ignore the haters. In the past couple years, I’ve focused more of my energy on work that I care about, and I find it to be a lot more satisfying, especially when I turn down the volume on critical voices (blocking Hacker News in my hosts file didn’t hurt either).

I think the best advice I’ve given is “kill your heroes.” What I mean by this is kill the hero you’ve built up in your mind and leave behind the human being who is actually there. In the tech community and elsewhere, building people up to celebrity status is a bad idea. It’s bad for the heroes, the people who look up to them, and the communities they are canonized in.

Q: What do you want people to take away from your upcoming keynote?

A: My upcoming keynote, It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: Battling the Invisible Monsters in Tech, discusses the topic of impostor syndrome. Impostor syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. The goal of my keynote is to help people understand what impostor syndrome is, the impact it can have on people in the tech community, and how they can help themselves and others manage it. The talk includes advice for everyone about how to develop environments that help people with impostor syndrome thrive. I am very excited to be giving this talk as the first keynote at Open Source Bridge because I think it will help encourage that sort of environment both at the conference and in our open source communities.

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