Living up to Our Commitment to Diversity

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Following through on our renewed focus on diversity, education and accessibility that we announced over the summer, the jQuery Foundation has in the past couple of months hosted one event and sponsored another devoted to increasing diversity in tech through outreach and education.

jQuery Developer Summit

October 16-18, the jQuery Foundation, along with partners Women of Color in Tech Chat, Manhattan JS, Girl Develop it, and Coalition for Queens, hosted 50 developers in New York City for the jQuery Foundation Developer Summit.   

This free three-day event, which was generously hosted by Digital Ocean, was designed to make open source development more accessible to, and inclusive of, members of underrepresented groups in technology. Participants of all skill levels and disciplines learned best practices and essential skills from current open source contributors and project representatives, and made contributions to an open source project that interests them.

The event heralded several firsts:

  • the first jQuery Developer Summit in three years
  • the first jQuery Foundation event in New York City
  • the first time we’ve been able to run an event that’s free to participants
  • the first time we’re working with partners to focus on improving the representation of diverse communities in open source
  • the first event that brought together project leads from both the jQuery Foundation and Dojo Foundation after our recent merge of these organizations

In creating this event, the jQuery Foundation sought to remove as many barriers as possible to attending a tech event and getting involved in open source. To achieve our aim, we scheduled the event on a weekend to avoid work conflicts, made it free to all attendees to remove income barriers, kept the size small to ensure a low mentor:attendee ratio, partnered with local organizations for underrepresented groups, and followed the jQuery Foundation Code of Conduct. Our efforts paid off, making this event a safe and welcoming environment for everyone.

The Agenda

Friday night we had a nice meet and greet with food and drink. Mentors helped get everyone’s laptop set up with all the software they’d need to hit the ground running Saturday morning.

Saturday began with a series of introductory presentations by experienced developers and in many cases leaders of jQuery Foundation and other Open Source projects. The intent was to orient new attendees to the why, how and what of contributing to Open Source projects.

Why Contribute?

Anne-Gaelle Colom, Content Lead for the  jQuery Foundation and Teaching Fellow at University of Westminster shared how she first got involved with mobile programming in 1996, and how her eventual involvement in jQuery projects helped her gain recognition and status as a woman in a male-dominated profession and University department. Find her presentation here.

Additional presentations, which ran during the morning on Saturday and Sunday, covered all the basics one needs to understand in order to get started contributing to Open Source. The speakers and content were really great. Where possible, the slide links are included below.

  • Adam Sontag – Intro “Fixing a simple bug narrative”
  • Dave Methvin – Reporting and Triaging Bugs
  • Ashley Williams – Pull Requests, Code Review, Automated Checks (CLA, CI, etc)| Open Source licenses and CLAs
  • Brian Brennan – Command Line + Git + Pull Requests
  • Adam Ulvi – How does this all go live -> Virtual Machines / Vagrant
  • Nick Hehr – Contributing Code
  • Leo Balter – Unit Tests
  • Sarah Frisk –  Project Communication, Open Source principles applied to the workplace/your career
  • Rushaine McBean – Community/Inspirational/Aspirational – “Soft” ways to get involved (meetups, conferences, speaking etc)
  • István Szmozsánszky Flaki  – Browser Dev Tools Workshop


At the end of the presentations on Saturday, all of the mentors gave a quick overview of their project and attendees paired up with the project that most interested them.

Mentors walked attendees through setting up their environment with virtualbox, node, npm, git, and an editor.


Participants worked in teams made up of members of different disciplines, ensuring that everyone was able to make a meaningful contribution in line with their strengths and interests. These include:

  • programming
  • documentation
  • server/network administration
  • design
  • community development


Participants worked alongside project team members, making contributions in all these disciplines to popular open source projects, some of which included:


Several attendees responded to our post-event survey. Here’s some of the feedback:

The Summit benefitted me in so many ways. I really valued the proportion of mentors to mentees. It was great to have so many experts floating around to be able to spend one on one time with you wherever you might have been in your path. I liked the casual flexibility of it all.

I think you did an awesome job of getting a variety of people to attend.
I am really glad that you included the LGBTQ community. I have NEVER EVER seen such diversity at any other event or conference I have ever attended in my 21 years in tech.

The most valuable aspect was contributing to open source. The summit made me realize that open source is more than just code.

We also asked mentors for their thoughts:

The almost 1-on-1 ratio of speakers/mentors to attendees made this event so intimate and gave me the opportunity to really meet people and find out about them, what their interests were and how they could benefit open source and how open source could benefit their life.

The enthusiasm of the attendees and their desire to get involved was amazing! It’s obvious that so many people just don’t get involved in open source because they can’t get past the on-boarding and that is somewhere we can definitely help!

Mozilla View Source

November 2-4, the jQuery Foundation sponsored the Diversity in Tech Corner at Mozilla’s View Source event in Portland, OR.

The goal of View Source was to provide an in-depth, practical look at current and on-the-horizon technologies, with plenty of opportunities for conversation.

Caterina Paun, Director of the Portland Women Who Code network greeted attendees in the Diversity in Tech Corner and led discussions about women in the engineering workforce, how to join an all-male team as a woman, and how companies can support the careers of women.

While there is undoubtedly much work yet to be done to make the collective of web builders as diverse as the web’s consumers, judging by the Twitter conversations, this event at least served as a beacon for inclusiveness.

Recurring and important theme at #ViewSource is focus on users/humanity through technology, not fetishism of shiny new technology.
— Lucas Myers (@unthunk) November 4, 2015

Once in a while I lose my way in terms of what I do and what I want as a web developer. Conferences like @viewsourceconf help me refocus.
— Alicia Sedlock (@aliciability) November 4, 2015

With day 1 complete, I must say, the most striking part about the day was the amount of smart women who took the stage. @viewsourceconf
— Elaine Oliver (@evoliver) November 3, 2015

Next Up for the jQuery Foundation

We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do but as we continue to execute on our goal to increase diversity in open source, keep an eye out for announcements of future event sponsorships, speaking engagements and developer summits going into 2016!

Invest in Yourself

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You already know that jQuery Foundation projects power just about every JavaScript effort on the planet in one way or another. jQuery is the most popular library for web sites. Grunt builds the assets for thousands of projects. Lodash is used widely on both the client and server, making it the most-depended-upon package on npm. These and all the other Foundation projects could use your help.

Perhaps you hesitate to contribute to an open source project because you think, “I’m not smart, experienced, or skilled enough to do that.” Wrong! If you’re good enough to use open source, you’re good enough to contribute. What’s more, there are plenty of projects looking for a wide variety of skills. You have something to offer. As a new contributor, a new perspective alone can be incredibly valuable to those who have spent their time looking at a problem “from the inside.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about open source is that you have to be a guru-level programmer and understand how every line in the project works. That’s not true though. Many of the code-related things that need to be done involve the “code that builds the code” such as unit tests, build systems, and release scripts. If you use those tools in your work every day, you can bring that experience to help a project with those tasks, even if you’re not an expert in how it works internally.

Then there are the non-programming tasks that some programmers put off (or flat-out just can’t do), but make a huge difference in usability for developers. These are tasks like bug triage, documentation, web site design, and graphic designs. I’ve spent ten years now contributing to open source projects. The first five years were mostly spent triaging bugs, writing test cases and improving documentation. Doing these often-ignored tasks improved my understanding of the needs of project users.

Several Foundation projects have marked issues with the “help wanted” tag to make it easier for new contributors to find things the team thinks don’t require too much inside knowledge. Some projects have also tagged tasks they think are good “first contributions” for people new to the open source process. You’ll find direct links to their issues below. Take a look and grab a task, the projects will thank you for it!

jQuery Mobile
Tessel CLI
Dojo 1.11
Dojo 2 core
lodash web site
jQuery core
jQuery core documentation

If you don’t find a match with one of the jQuery Foundation projects, don’t let it stop you from contributing somewhere in the open source world. Sites like can help with the search.

The jQuery Foundation would also be grateful for any contributions you’d like to make so we can continue to help open source projects grow and thrive.

Like many gifts that you can give, a contribution to open source can benefit the giver as much as the receiver. Open source software is about creating something together, where everyone contributes a bit and receives great benefits overall. In the process of helping a project you will improve your development skills, meet people with similar interests, and perhaps even hone your talents in preparation for a new job. It can take a bit of time to find the best project match for you, but the benefit to everyone will be much more than a drop in the bucket.