WoMoz!

Shivika Sahni

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My journey with Mozilla is not a very old one. But in this brief partnership of 4 odd months I feel like I have learnt so much that it can fill an entire library. So here I am sharing a milestone event, what many might call a game changer. It was the golden  opportunity to be a Speaker in Dayanand Sagar Institution,Bangalore on 30th March.

“Behind every successful man there is a woman” goes the saying of yore, but in my case it turned out to be quite the opposite and the person I owe my success to is Shreyas, my co-speaker. He coaxed me to come out of my shy and reserved cocoon and go out of my comfort zone into the foray of public speaking. So, after lots of convincing, I packed my bags and traveled  all the way to Bangalore to attend this event. At 2 in the afternoon, sheltered in the comfortable IBM labs away from the blistering summer sun, Shreyas actuated the event with a very interesting activity named “The Spectrogram“.

The game started with this question: “Are women  good managers or not?” As per the rules, the students had to split themselves into three groups: yes, no and maybe.This game paved the way for a healthy discussion on WoMoz, as we like to call us Women in Mozilla. Everyone teamed up and started putting forth their views and opinions. It was  really refreshing to see such an enthusiastic and opinionated crowd.

After this ice breaker in the form of a game, Shreyas gave everybody an introduction to Mozilla, our mission, the open source projects and how to contribute to Mozilla. He also talked about the Mozilla web maker tools(popcorn maker,x-ray goggles,thimble,app maker) and also gave a demo of the  popcorn maker and the Webmaker App. He then asked the students to design their own video. This served the dual purpose of cementing the use of popcorn maker in their minds as well as opening them up for an interactive session rather than a boring presentation. To add spice to the event we came up with the most talked about, the passion and religion of every Indian, the one and only ICC cricket world cup.

I have no qualms in admitting that I suggested the topic purely because I am also one of the gazillion ardent devotees of cricket in India. More so, I was also intrigued to know what was their take on it as they had already proved themselves to be quite the intelligent batch. All the students started working on it with all guns blazing, we also made an announcement that the winner would get the Mozilla swags.

After an hour or so, the new session started, where I was to take the lead. I started the session with a very rudimentary question “ why don’t women contribute to Open source” , “ why don’t they come forward?” I asked every single girl sitting in the room what is the reason behind less participation? (Why) do they feel inferior when it comes to technology and coding? The answers that I received were not very far from what I had expected. phrases such as  “they believe they are not good when it comes to coding” , “women are usually stereotyped in non technology roles”, “women are not cut out for technology” etc etc. The question that followed in natural progression was How to get more women into tech ?

I addressed them more as a peer and tried to break the mental block that women had or what was drilled in their heads by the bias of our patriarchal society. Something that said “women cannot be in technology”. But, the legitimate truth is  Anyone can do it , especially women themselves  😉  and we’ll allow them to get bolder and getting greater appreciation for what they do !! I also spoke about IRC, bugzilla  and mailing lists to get in touch with the Mozillians and WoMoz. I had a discussion with the girls ,talked about their problems in participating and tried solving their issues. Then we distributed the goodies to the winners of popcorn maker. The students were pretty awesome when they have come up with their videos.

I’m still walking the path to achieve the dream I’m chasing after.Don’t know if I can succeed and achieve the ultimate goal of empowering every single mother, daughter and female friends through techs and FOSS . I dare to dream , I dare to dream a country where a girl will prefer to be techie or web maker rather than being a house-hold worker. I know it’s a long way to go but not impossible though.

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