The Women of the Drupal Community: cdulude

In this month's Women of Drupal spotlight, Acquia TAM manager, Christina Dulude advocates for more inclusive sponsorship in tech.

Name: Christina Dulude ID: cdulude

Location: Boston, MA

Job Title: Manager, Technical Account Management, Acquia

In the Drupal community, being “open” goes beyond just open source code. Open is a spirit of community, diversity and collaboration among passionate people looking to build great things together through technology. For years, those in the Drupal space have strived to elevate people from different identities and backgrounds to contribute whether that be in the form of code, marketing or sponsorship.  

Yet, there’s still lots of work to be done in the effort to make Drupal a more inclusive community. Women still make up a minority of the total recorded contributions to Drupal and are under-represented in the STEM fields as a whole. Looking forward, we want to be open to progress by sharing the voices of more women in the tech space and give them a public platform that inspires others to get involved. 

For this month’s Women of Drupal profile, I talked with Christina Dulude on adapting to the Drupal learning curve and the effort to offer women in open source stronger sponsorship and leadership opportunities in their careers.  

Paige: How did you get your start in tech? 

Christina: In my last year of college, I took a Java programming course to fulfill a general education requirement. I was nervous because I hadn’t taken a STEM class in five years, and I just assumed I wasn’t wired that way. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it and aced the class. I then packed a few more programming classes into my last semester and ended up graduating with a minor in computer science (and a triple-major in wildly different fields). I then earned a Master's degree in Information Science where I focused on information architecture and user experience design. 

Paige: How did you first discover Drupal? 

Christina: In 2009, I was working for a university on a team where we built websites in a variety of CMSs. Drupal was starting to gain popularity for college and university websites, so my boss at the time suggested our next site be built in Drupal. I had done quite a bit of WordPress development, so I figured Drupal was similar and jumped right in. I made all the classic newbie mistakes, like putting logic in the template files. I left that project very unimpressed with Drupal and decided I’d stick to WordPress. When I was assigned my second Drupal project, I decided it was time to sit down with some tutorials and finally learn how to do it right. After that, I realized Drupal was very powerful and allowed developers to get a lot farther than with other CMSs, and then I was hooked. 

Paige: What Drupal function, project or contribution are you working on and/or most proud of?

Christina: Since joining Acquia in 2015, I’ve been lucky to work with some incredible customers -- from large pharmaceuticals to world-class universities, to major media companies. In 2018, I was part of the team supporting NBC Sports during the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games and the World Cup

Paige: What are some challenges you've faced, technically or career-wise?

Christina: Most career challenges I’ve faced have been inaccurate conclusions about my role or abilities because I’m a woman. As a developer in my previous jobs, I was usually assumed to be the graphic designer. In my current role, when I meet people at industry events, they often assume I work in sales or marketing rather than lead a technical team. 

Paige: What inspires you? What keeps you passionate about your work? 

Christina: I love learning new things, and the benefit of working in tech is that it is ever-evolving. Since transitioning into a management role, I’m less hands-on coding these days but enjoying developing a whole new set of skills. 

Paige: What are some other aspects of the Drupal community that you're involved in?

Christina: Prior to joining Acquia, I spent many years working in web development at a few different universities. I was very involved with the Higher Ed Drupal community back then, and I organized the Higher Ed Summit at DrupalCon Austin and DrupalCon LA.

Paige: How do you think we can help empower women in tech and work toward better gender inclusion?

Christina: I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’ve read several articles about how high-potential women are over-mentored but under-sponsored. The difference between the two is that mentorship usually involves giving advice and being a role model or sounding board to a more junior person. Sponsorship, on the other hand, is when a senior leader advocates for the junior person and is their champion. Mentorship is certainly valuable -- but sponsorship is what leads to promotions and advancement. 

Paige: What does the future of Drupal look like in your opinion? More adoption, new features, any major changes? 

Christina: I believe Drupal will continue down the path with UX improvements and other features that make the processing of creating a site more accessible for site builders and less advanced developers. I’m also encouraged by the initiatives to make the upgrade process easier between major versions of Drupal. 

Paige: What advice would you give your younger self or someone who is just starting out? 

Christina: Don’t second-guess yourself! Everyone else is still figuring things out too. Some are just more confident than others. 

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