Diversity in system administration

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facilitated by Mallory and Jaime

Round: What you want to get out of the session?

A list of requirements of what we want to see re needs, requirements, gatherings

How to set up a contrinuous integration ecosystem and invite other devs to help with it

Project ideas from this conversation, to support and contribute to

Understand how do people become sysadmin

How to improve sysadmin skills

New ways (feminism) to look at familiar problems

Best practices for successfullyImprove diversity

Accessible resources

Understand how to share the responsibility to be sysadmin

Are there ways to make sysadmin work joious and include the narratives of the people we serve

Concrete ways to demistify technology and understand how to have queers and women to contribute

We want to hire a sysadmin, and we did outreach far and wide, but there is no diversity at all in the applcations we received

Key: Find sysadmin who are grounded, and politically aware.

Questions and requests emerging from the go-round:

project ideas

how do people become sysadmin

improve sysadmin skills *

best practices for successfully finding grounded sysadmins *

improve diversity

what's the feminist angle

find resources that are accessible ***

shairng knolwedge

tell stories, change narrative

There is something is the way we are doing sysadmin and the way we are sharing information and knowledge about it that does not work. Becuase we keep having a diversity problem.

MayFirst had a People of Color training program: it was not focusing only on sysadmin, it was also about full stack, web administration, etc.

They found people who were already in an organization, and trained them to up their skills.

Some of the issues were about retention: face to face learning is useful and there was not enough face to face time available. Also, it was a politicized initiative, and meeting in person is important in this sense.

Other issue: funding.

Mixing the pleasure with learning is important. Less emphasys on productivity and achievements (like many current online courses).

A feminist approach is about sharing spaces and exchanging, not about productivity.

Over time, "system administration" has started to become "infrastructure as code". And it also started to include more coding.

Q: Where to find resources to learn?




OpSchool project, on GitHub

Keeping your site alive (EFF site)



Koumbit (in French)

Codigo Sur (in Spanish, Portuguese)

Setting up sandboxes, testing tools


We should all be more like documentation activists, creating shareable resources.

Lots of resources are in English, and this is also a problem. And if the basics are covered in English, the harder problems are close to impossible to be found addressed in other languages.

There are basic resources online. But still, running a server at production capacity seems to be something that is only learned on the job. How do we make the leap to make this more practical type of skills and knowledge accessible?

From personal experience, the most important professional learnings have not necessarily been on the technical side. They were more about principles, learned on the job, from more experienced sysadmin. Learning from them about: Incident management, and principles to guide you to think about a problem

Skills --> engagement



Appropriate resources

Payment and compensation

Breaking loneliness

Collectivizing resposnibility

One reason why the sysadmin professional community is not diverse: Doing all this self-supported learning is a privilege, you need the time and the resources to allow you to do that.

One example of successful approach:

One organization was looking for a new hire, the applications were not diverse. So they hire an apprentice.

Paid, and investing on their professional growth. Collectivizing the issue.

Ask from group: Can we set up an IRC channel?

[irc.indymedia.org] #feministsysadmins