Adaora Onyia and Susan Bowen -
Speaking Topic: WIOS: Hello, can anybody hear me? Effective communication techniques for women in the open source community

Adaora Onyia and Susan Bowen are program managers in HP's Open Source & Linux Organization and have a number of years of experience communicating with a variety of partners in technical and business settings. Adaora and Susan are also currently working to develop project management courses that will be offered on-line to the open source community.

Adaora has been managing open source projects for 8 and a half years. During this time Adaora has had the opportunity to see how important effective communication is to the success of an open source project. Adaora's educational background is in electrical engineering and computer science. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with an advanced project management certificate from Stanford University. Adaora will making a presentation at LCA08 (LinuxChix mini-conference) on “Communication challenges in an open source environment” based on the work she and Susan have been working on.

Susan has worked in high tech for years in jobs ranging from software and hardware R&D usability design to product marketing and field support. Communication has always been a strong interest area and theme in her career. In her opinion, it is a key predictor of the success of teams and projects. For the last three years, Susan has been a program manager focusing on open source and Linux. Susan is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).


Have you ever suggested a solution and gotten no response, only to have it repeated by someone (male) and seen it be immediately adopted? In addition to dealing with the usual challenges of communicating effectively in an open source project, women have an additional challenge: communicating effectively with an audience that is primarily male. As a woman, you have probably been doing this since the beginning of your academic career and you may have a lot of experience with it. Have you ever had time to consider the adjustments you may make to communicate well with men, or improvements you would like to see to be more effective? This presentation's focus is to list, discuss, and highlight communication styles so that you can characterize yourself and other important partners you deal with. It's not about stereotypes! People differ in how they communicate:
  • direct versus indirect (vague) communication
  • apologizing (or not)
  • co-operation versus independence
  • “I” versus “we”
  • emotions and passions in communication
Communication is influenced as well by cultural differences and personality differences as well as whether the communication is face to face or remote. The familiar adage is true – how you say it is as important as what you say. This session will give you a chance to review your current communication style and provide ideas on ways to improve or enhance your communication. At the end of this presentation, you should be able to walk away with at least one idea of a simple change you can make in your daily communication.