In October’s Women of Drupal feature, we spoke with Annertech Managing Director and DrupalCon Trivia Night creator, Stella Power on founding Ireland’s leading Drupal agency, balancing work and home life, and gaining confidence through the Drupal community.
The latest annual report “Who sponsors Drupal development?” by Drupal founder and Acquia CTO Dries Buytaert showed a 1% increase in Drupal contributions by people who don’t identify as male; however, the total recorded non-male contributions are still only just 8%. Progress happens when we all make the effort to support those leaders in tech and Drupal who are paving the way for a more inclusive future. At this year’s DrupalCon Amsterdam, Acquia partnered with Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization that works to provide girls the resources, educational training and opportunities to excel in technology professions. While we are seeing more women getting involved in tech, it’s essential to keep growing Drupal’s diversity of ideas and working toward equality and inclusion.
This month, I had the pleasure of getting to know Lynette Miles (esmerel). Lynette is a Principal Technical Writer (Team Lead) at Acquia and co-author of Drupal’s Building Blocks, an acclaimed reference book that offers tutorials, advice and even sample “recipe code” for web professionals looking to get the most out of some of Drupal’s most essential modules. Along with her husband Earl Miles (merlinofchaos), who is a founding member of the Drupal Association, Lynette has been an active contributor within the Drupal community and essential member of the Acquia documentation team.
Here are her thoughts on the ins-and-outs of technical writing and the importance of having a strong support team.
Paige: How did you get your start in tech?
Lynette: I got my first tech job in 1996, at an ISP called Netcom. I did email technical support and then moved up to the second level help desk. A couple of years later, I moved on to another tech support job at a company that got bought by then Lucent Technologies. I was there for 10 years as a support rep, team lead, readiness manager, documentation editor and all kinds of stuff.
Paige: How did you first discover Drupal?
Lynette: I know this guy – he wrote a couple of modules folks may have heard of: Views, Panels, CTools. He lives in my house and he’s a good cook. He writes code sometimes.
Paige: What Drupal function, project or contribution are you working on and/or most proud of?
Lynette: I wrote about 75% of Drupal’s Building Blocks enabling me to check “Publish a book” off my bucket list.
Paige: What are some challenges you've faced throughout your career?
Lynette: Like anyone who presents female, I’ve gotten my share of people who are flatly boggled that I know anything about technical stuff, much less that I know more than them. I’ve seen a lot of people who feel like they’re a subject matter expert (SME) on one thing, and that means they’re an SME everywhere.
I also see a lot of people who feel like because they are an expert on a subject, and they speak English, that makes them good at writing about that subject. It doesn’t. Many people think writing documentation is easy. Writing something and calling it “docs” is easy. Writing good documentation is hard.