Name: Beverly Lanning
Drupal.org ID: bemarlan
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Job Title: Technical Architect
As it says in Drupal's statement of values, “We believe that the Drupal project benefits from a diverse contribution pool, and we strive to foster a welcoming and inclusive culture everywhere Drupal exists—at events, online, and in our workplaces” However, a large gender disparity still exists in the community, with only 8% of Drupal contributors identifying as non-male according to the latest surveys. In order to keep moving forward and attract more diverse contributors to the Drupal community, we believe in propping up diverse leadership and making sure all members are given a voice. Our ongoing Women of Drupal series shares unique perspectives of women working in the tech and Drupal space whether that’s site building, contributing code, leading projects or planning events.
Previously, we heard from Third & Grove Associate Architect Marie Kiryanova on learning English through computer languages and the reward of sharing your knowledge with others. For our first Women of Drupal spotlight of 2020, I had the pleasure of getting to know Beverly Lanning, a technical architect for Acquia and skilled web and UX developer. She shared insights on the importance of trying out different areas of tech to find your passion, overcoming stigma and gender discrimination in STEM and the power of creating on the right CMS.
Paige: How did you get your start in tech?
Beverly: The moment I knew I wanted to work with technology was when I booted up a smartphone for the very first time (circa 2011). I was captivated by the user experience and the amount of power I held in my hands. I began taking free online coding classes in the evenings and convinced the company I worked for to take me out of software support and put me in a web coordinator role where I hand-coded marketing emails. I learned as much as I could and took off from there.
Paige: How did you first discover Drupal?
Beverly: In one of my first jobs, the company’s website was still a static site, while other microsites were built on multiple different content management systems (CMS). In addition to rebuilding the company website, our team wanted to adopt a CMS that could become our new standard platform. We were sold on Drupal because of the community, documentation and accessibility standards it offered as well as the ease to manage multiple sites at once. Plus we were really fond of the freedom Drupal gave to write custom modules and themes.
Paige: What Drupal function, project or contribution are you working on and/or most proud of?
Beverly: Sticky Toolbar is the first module I contributed to drupal.org. Although the function of the module is basic, I was thrilled to finally have the courage to publish my own code in the form of a contrib module.
Paige: What are some challenges you've faced, technically or career-wise?
Beverly: Working in tech can be overwhelming as there is no clear direction. What’s a front-end developer vs a back-end developer? Can I do Dev-Ops too? If I chose a platform am I “stuck” with it forever? I think the most important thing you can do is get a wide exposure to different technologies and work on the things you find most enjoyable without worrying about your job title. The title will find you eventually.
One of the most disappointing moments of my career as a whole was having a department Vice President tell me he felt I’d be a distraction to his male-dominant team of developers (being a young female). Overall I’ve had an incredible experience with diversity and inclusion, so never let a few moments like that define your career forever.