Actions Over Anger: Why I’m Committed to Making Tech Better

(crossposted from my blog at juliepagano.com)

In case you haven’t noticed, I am very excited about Steel City Ruby Conf (an upcoming Ruby conference I am helping organize). One of the major reasons for this is that we are targeting people who have never been to conferences before and making efforts to be inclusive (check out my blog post, Why We Care About Inclusivity, to find out more).  If you know me (or at least follow me on the interwebs), you know that diversity in tech is an issue near and dear to my heart.  I am so thankful for the group of people putting this thing together because their efforts are not only creating an awesome conference, but helping improve the environment in tech.

I was really blown away by the feedback I got about my diversity in tech lightning talk (presented to a group of colleagues), especially because it was even reasonably received (read: they didn’t completely hate it) by people who I thought would outright reject it.  In the conversations that followed, I may have even convinced a few skeptics that some diversity initiatives could be good for tech.

It feels really good to be actively doing something instead of just raging into the gaping maw of the internet.  While I think anger has its place (and I doubt I’m going to stop my own personal renditions of FEMINIST HULK any time soon), direct action seems way more productive and rewarding.

Between my social anxiety and a touch of imposter syndrome, I generally haven’t thought of myself as someone who could speak or be one of the leaders at a tech event (be it a tiny local user group or a large conference).  But right now, I swear I’m getting some sort of contact high off of just the possibility of making things better with my tiny little actions. And you know what?  I like the taste of the drug that is making things better.

So what am I going to do while I’m still high on life?  I’m going to set some hard goals for myself, so I can keep riding this high into the future and maybe (just maybe) even help others find highs of their own.  I will present at tech events, starting with my current lightning talk and eventually growing to longer talks.  I will be active in my local tech community, starting with attending more events and eventually moving into (or creating) some leadership roles.  I will temper my rage because while anger can be valuable, actions are better.

I’m writing about this in the indelible ink of the internet because I’m having what one of my friends describes as a “come to Jesus” moment (perhaps “Eureka moment” is better for this godless heathen). I want to be able to look at this and get a taste of this feeling when I’m having a setback or a shitty day.  I want my friends to see this because they deserve thanks for helping me get here, and I want them to call me on my shit if I don’t live up to my own expectations.  And, perhaps most of all, I want other people struggling to figure things out to see that the tech community has a lot to offer, and they can be part of it and make things better too.