Friday, February 22, 2019

The North Star of PyCascades, core Python developer Mariatta Wijaya, receives the 2018 Q3 Community Service Award

We in the Python community have a deep appreciation for the volunteers who organize, promote, and write the language. A phrase that has become a cornerstone of our community, afterall, ‘Come for the language, stay for the community’ (derived from Python core developer Brett Cannon’s opening remarks at PyCon 2014), reflects the passion of our community and more so of the countless volunteers building our community.

One volunteer who has been steadfast in actively building the Python community - from her contributions to CPython to her work as an organizer and co-chair of PyCascades 2018 and more - is Mariatta Wijaya. We at the Python Software Foundation are pleased to name Mariatta Wijaya as a 2018 Q3 Community Service Award recipient:

RESOLVED, that the Python Software Foundation award the Q3 2018 Community Service Award to Mariatta Wijaya for her contributions to CPython, diversity efforts for the Python Core Contributor team, and her work on PyCascades.

Come talk! The path to becoming a Core Python Developer

At Montreal PyCon 2015, Guido Van Rossum delivered the closing keynote during which Guido issued a public ask, “I want at least two female Python core developers in the next year ... and I will try to train them myself if that's what it takes. So come talk to me." Consequently, Mariatta did just that, she reached out to Guido after PyCon 2016 to learn more about starting in Python core development. Mariatta recalls, “I hadn’t contributed to open source [yet] and I wanted to know how to start”. Guido recommended some ways for Mariatta to start including reviewing the dev guide, looking at open issues and joining and introducing herself on the Python dev mailing list .

Following Guido’s advice, Mariatta “read the issues [to] see if there is anything I can help with, anything that interests me ... [when I learned that] Brett was starting migration [of Python] to GitHub”. As an engineer at Zapier, Mariatta has a background in web development so the migration provided an initial issue she could begin to explore. Mariatta has since contributed to several bots that improve the workflows for Python contributors and core developers, reviewed and merged 700+ PRs to Python, and is Co-Chair of the Language Summit in 2019 and 2020. Some examples of bots she has written include cherry-picker, a “tool used to backport CPython changes from master into one or more of the maintenance branches”. Additionally, Mariatta is the author of PEP-581: Using GitHub Issues for CPython. Her motivations behind this PEP again come back to improving the core Python development processes, “I think it will be more beneficial to use an out of the box issue tracker like GitHub as it will allow core developers to focus on developing and contributing”.

A role model for us all: Increasing the diversity of the Core Python Development team

The recent departure of Guido as BDFL and the subsequent discussion about the future governance of core Python led to several suggestions, with the Steering Council ultimately becoming the chosen model. Core Python developer Victor Stinner along with several others nominated Mariatta to the Steering Council. In Victor’s nomination he explains, “Mariatta became the first woman core developer in Python [in 2017]. She is actively sharing her experience to encourage people from underrepresented groups to contribute to Python.” The work required to become a core developer is laborious yet Mariatta has continuously gone the extra mile to lead by example and be active in public outreach. “Mariatta is my role model for mentoring and diversity which is helping a lot to get more people involved in Python,” Victor adds. Python core developer and Steering Council member Carol Willing echoed this sentiment sharing, “Mariatta works to share Python and its possible uses with others. Her blend of hard work, enthusiasm, and caring have welcomed many into the Python Community,”

Mariatta’s PyCon 2018 talk titled, “What is a Core Python Developer is an ideal example of Mariatta’s dedication to building a more diverse core Python team. Beginning with a question, “do you use f’strings” (Mariatta is a known avid fan of f’strings, she even has stickers for them) Mariatta dives into a talk about what the pathway is for core (and contributing) developers ultimately commenting on the very real, stark gender imbalance within the core team, “We have 848 contributors to Python, less than 10 are women. We have 89 core developers, only 2 are women ... This is real but this is also wrong. This is not the right representation of our community”.  While this number is starting to change as more women are promoted to core development (Cheryl Sabella’s promotion this week ups the number of women core developers up to 5 out of 97), Mariatta has continued to be a champion and advocate for diversity and inclusion in the core development team. Even the captionist in Mariatta's PyCon 2018 (seen below in tweets) talk captured their appreciation for Mariatta's dedication.

The North Star of PyCascades

Outside of her contributions to CPython, Mariatta has been an active organizer with PyCascades - a regional Python conference now about to kick off its second conference this week. The inaugural 2018 conference, held in Mariatta’s hometown Vancouver, Canada, introduced a a single track format with 30 minute talks, no question and answer, and includes lightning talks. Inspired by the single track format of Write the Docs and DjangoCon Europe, this format was not only an easier way to get a new conference off the ground but, as Mariatta observed, “is able to give [speakers] the large audience they deserve”. This format also makes it easier for attendees to navigate.

Co-Chairing the conference with Mariatta in 2018, Seb Vetter remarked, “Mariatta has been THE driving force behind PyCascades in the inaugural year”. As a co-chair Mariatta helped respond to many last minute issues such as when, the day before the conference at 10:00am local time, Guido informed the organizers he was unable to obtain a visa to travel to speak at PyCascades. Within a few hours, the team setup for Guido to speak remotely, had sent him a badge, when the team learned Guido would be able to attend after all! “When we found out he's coming, we printed one more badge for him. That's why he has multiple badges,” Mariatta explained. Juggling many changing priorities is the life of an organizer. Yet each decision made, “she ensured … considered the potential impact on the diversity of the conference,” Seb remembered adding, “[Mariatta] seems to have an endless stream of enthusiasm and energy and was our North Star for doing everything we could to make it as inclusive for attendees as possible”. The idea of Mariatta acting as a North Star was echoed by PyCascades organizer Don Sheu adding, “she gives voice to folks that aren’t sufficiently represented in tech … [as a part of] PyCascades founding team, Mariatta’s influence is creating a safe environment”.

With PyCascades 2019 happening in Seattle this upcoming weekend (February 23 - 24), Mariatta is again contributing as an organizer.

What do f-string stickers and food have in common? Mariatta’s love of them!

Outside of Python, when asked what else Mariatta likes to do she simply responded, “I love food!”. And her favorite food? Asian cuisine.

#IceCreamSelfie at North Bay Python 2018.

If you happen to see Mariatta at an event, say hi. Maybe she’ll have f-string sticker for you!