Name: Nelie Laura MAKENNE
Drupal.org ID: makennenelielaura
Location: Cameroon, Yaounde
Job Title: DevOps
Drupal was founded on the belief that through open source technology and collaboration, we all have the power to make the world a better place. However, as Dries Buytaert notes in his recent blog post, Who sponsors Drupal development (2019-2020 edition), “the gender balance in Drupal is profound.” We all must still work to foster diversity and inclusion within open source spaces like Drupal to close the gap and work toward a truly better open web.
This investment in supporting more geographic and gender inclusion was a key focus of DrupalCon Global 2020. This past year the DrupalCon scholarship program partnered with She Code Africa (SCA) a non-profit organization focused on celebrating and empowering young girls and women in technology across Africa.
Creating more of these opportunities is essential to spreading the awareness of Drupal across the globe, and this month, Acquia’s Women of Drupal series is proud to highlight Nelie Laura MAKENNE a DevOps Engineer and member of the Drupal Cameroon Association (DCA). The DCA is a Drupal community that aims to introduce Drupal and open source software to university students and graduates in Cameroon by organizing conferences that promote the advantages of working with Drupal. In her interview, Nelie Laura shares her introduction to Drupal as a student and her beliefs about the importance of overcoming old biases to strive for equal opportunities within the workforce.
How did you get your start in tech?
I started working in technology in 2013, when I was at the first level of mathematics and computer science at university. Since then, I've been passionate about code and web development.
How did you first discover Drupal?
I discovered Drupal during an internship. At the company I worked for, Drupal was the main CMS used to manage the content of their websites.
What Drupal function, project or contribution are you working on and/or most proud of?
I am a non-code contributor to the Drupal community. As a member of the Drupal Cameroon Association (DCA), our goal is to promote the Drupal CMS. The DCA regularly holds meet-ups (both in person and virtual) to share and promote the strengths of open source throughout the region.
What are some challenges you've faced, technically or career-wise?
Tech is dominated by men and as a woman, I had to learn to assert myself, to be listened to and to be taken seriously like my male colleagues. There were times where I was not offered the same pay as others, even though we were doing the same work. It is important to advocate for what you are worth.
What inspires you? What keeps you passionate about your work?
My passion is learning about software and technology. I am always looking to challenge myself and learn new things. I have been fascinated by computers since I was very young, so I decided to study computer science at university and have continued in that direction since graduation. It was a great choice for me! As a DevOps, I enjoy working and building websites and it's exciting for me.
What are some other aspects of the Drupal community that you're involved in?
I'm still in the learning phase of Drupal CMS. I enjoy attending events and conferences to learn more about what’s new in Drupal and develop my skills.
How do you think we can help empower women in tech and work toward better gender inclusion?
I think the community is already inclusive. To help overcome this challenge, men and women should try to keep a 50/50 mindset. In other words, about 50% of the world's population is male and the other half is female. So ideally, half of the workforce should be male and half female. This is ideal gender parity.
Even in workplaces and industries like tech where the number of male and female employees is probably not balanced, men and women should be appreciated, honored and heard equally. So, beyond just hiring more women, businesses need to be working toward equal opportunities and visibility for the women and men already on their staff. They need to give equal time and consideration to the ideas offered by both sexes.
Technology will always be an engine of progress for young people. I think sexism is disappearing in some places already. In the Drupal Cameroon Association we have more and more girls doing the coding. We need to encourage that.
What does the future of Drupal look like in your opinion? More adoption, new features, any major changes?
I encourage Drupal to continue along the same path with improvements and new features that will allow a user with no skills in the Drupal CMS to quickly take the lead and make the process of creating a site more accessible to site builders as well as beginners in this field.
What advice would you give your younger self or someone who is just starting out?
Believe in yourself, and don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Don't be afraid to dare to show everyone what you can do. Continue to be curious and optimistic.