November 8th & 9th, 2024
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The Stories We Don't Tell

SeaGL 2021

It’s easy to tell stories about people whose experience in the tech industry is unusual. Some of those stories are focused on innovators, but others are focused on ‘trailblazers’ from marginalised and under-represented groups. Articles like these often focus on the characteristics that these trailblazers exhibit - strength, perseverance, resilience. However, that’s only one part of the story. The ways in which under-represented people enter, experience, and hopefully thrive in our industry are far more complex.

Very few people advance their careers on positive attributes alone. For those from marginalised groups, their tech experience depends on the managers, companies, and communities who put in the time and effort to identify, employ, and sponsor them through their careers. Open-source communities have a role to play in this process; not only are they a frequent first point of contact for young folks and potential career-changers, they’re also a place where people are free to learn and make mistakes outside a formal employment structure, with the support of mentors and long-time community members.

In this talk, we’ll analyse what it means to be successful when nobody in the room looks like you, and break down the narrative of the trailblazers in the tech industry. Then, we’ll look at the role that technical groups and communities play in increasing diversity and fostering a sense of belonging in the industry. By the end of the session, you will have learned ways to use your energy to shape open-source communities where difference is both ordinary and celebrated, and also how you can start to translate that into a commercial workplace.


Dawn Cooper

Dawn Cooper

Dawn (lisushka) likes to tinker with cloud infrastructure and security, and regularly goes down rabbit holes in a futile search for ways to develop systems that are both reliable and impenetrable. As well as accidental accessibility advocacy, Dawn can regularly be found sharing knowledge within the Melbourne cloud infrastructure and DevOps communities.

Outside work, Dawn is an occasional author, kitchen alchemist, and raging sportsball fan.