The first event to kick off the annual State of the Map (SOTM) US Conference was the Geo-Ladies meet-up for women interested in all things related to OpenStreetMap (OSM) and geo. Since the conference is being hosted in Seattle this year, Geo-Ladies was held at Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe, a wonderful bookstore on Capitol Hill. The business is named after Ada Lovelace, considered to be the first programmer; a very fitting space for geo-ladies!
Approximately 30 women attended the event throughout the evening. I met women who worked with OSM in many different spheres: some are working with large companies like Apple and Google; others are working with OSM through internships at organizations like the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology at the University of Washington. The chance to meet like-minded women was both professionally valuable and personally a lot of fun.
The theme of this year’s SOTM-US conference was building community. At the meet-up, we discussed how women fit in to the OSM community, and how to make the OSM community an inclusive and diverse environment where women and other minorities can be thriving members. In order to facilitate these discussions, questions with related topics – ranging from technical aspects of OSM to how to engage the community – were hung around the room for attendees to write their thoughts and responses. There were a wide range of ideas like engaging youth and establishing a formalized women’s OSM community. I found these discussions to be particularly valuable. I am very fortunate to work for SpatialDev, where about half our team members are female, giving me many strong women role models. However, having the opportunity to engage with other women in the geo-community helped me realize other ways SpatialDev could continue to diversify and strengthen its workplace.
As a whole, I thought the meet-up was a vibrant and engaging event, and I am excited to continue to work with the geo-ladies group to keep the discussions and connections moving forward!
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who helped organize and plan the event: Phoebe Merritt, Sarah Bindman, Drishtie Patel, Alyssa Wright, and Clifford Snow.
Full notes from the meet up are available on the meet-up page http://www.meetup.com/OpenStreetMap-Seattle/events/232657919/
There is also a geo-ladies slack channel within the OSM US Slack team. Please join us! http://osmus-slack.herokuapp.com/