Meet an AdaCamper: Jessica McKellar

Applications to AdaCamp DC are still open! We’re excited to introduce some of our accepted AdaCampers, to give you a sense of who you’ll meet if you come along.

Photograph of Jessica McKellar

Boston Python Workshop, used with permission

What’s your name, or pseudonym?

Jessica McKellar, jesstess on most of the Internet, @jessicamckellar on Twitter.

Tell us a little about your home community and/or your work.

I live in Somerville, Massachusetts, USA. I am a kernel engineer in the Ksplice group at Oracle.

What is (one of) your key open technology/culture communities or projects? What do you enjoy about it?

I am an organizer for the Boston Python user group – the largest Python user group in the world with over 2**11 members. With this group I run the Boston Python Workshop, a hugely successful programming outreach pipeline for women that has brought over 300 women into the local programming community and boosted representation by women at local Python user group events from 2% to 15% in the last 18 months. The Workshop is also a platform for dozens of women programmers to take leadership and teaching roles in the Python community, and to inspire other programming user groups to run diversity outreach events.

Through grants from the Python Software Foundation and the Anita Borg institute, the Workshop has hit the road to help Python user groups bootstrap introductory programming events for women in Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Portland. Our content is all online and Creative Commons-licensed and has been reused and remixed by intro events for women and men around the world.

I gave a talk with Asheesh Laroia at PyCon 2012 about the successes and challenges of the Boston Python Workshop:

Diversity in practice: How the Boston Python User Group grew to 1700 people and over 15% women

How has being a woman in your community changed during your involvement in it?

Photograph of Jessica McKellar and Boston Python Workshop participants

© Boston Python Workshop, used with permission

As a Python community organizer (beyond being a Boston Python user group organizer, I am on the Python Software Foundation Board of Directors and the PSF Outreach and Education Committee), I am constantly reflecting on how we are doing and what we can do better to welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds in all aspect of our community, from user groups and conferences to Python core development and open source projects that use Python.

I spend a lot of my time with the PSF encouraging not only participation but leadership by women in the Python community.

Are you planning to propose any sessions at AdaCamp?


  1. Organizing First Patch workshops for women
  2. Change from within: running outreach events for women in programming and open technology user groups

The Ada Initiative thanks our AdaCamp DC sponsors for making the event possible.

Thank you to our Gold level sponsor the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thank you to our Silver level sponsors: the Linux Foundation, Intel, Facebook, Red Hat, Collabora and Yammer.