We sat down with Amanda Brock of OpenUK, one year after her women in tech profile, to talk more in depth about diversity in the tech sphere and how to encourage and breakdown barriers for underrepresented groups. Read on for her 2024 predictions for the open source community and more.

devmio: How do you believe diversity contributes to the overall success of tech events?

Amanda Brock: I’ve worked in the tech sector a long time and when you walk into a room that has a diverse audience, you can immediately feel the difference. There’s a different frequency that those rooms operate at. That energy in those rooms creates the buzz of diverse opinions reflective of our diverse society that enable development of products that serve all of society in the best way possible, and at events we see it in the safe and comfortable environments not only allowing those opinions to be shared but to be listened to.

devmio: Can you share specific examples of how a diverse range of perspectives has positively impacted a tech event you’ve attended or organised?

Amanda Brock: I saw this in practice at State of Open Con 23, OpenUK’s first annual conference, held in London in February 2023. We were proud to welcome 800 delegates at its first outing in 2023, with almost 40% of the speakers not being male and 49.3% of its audience identified as not being white. State of Open Con 24 also has a diverse speaker roster, a rarity in non EDI tech events in tech. Bringing these diverse voices together helps build a more interesting and varied event, reflecting the full breadth of talent and experts in tech today.

devmio: In your experience, how can event organisers encourage underrepresented groups to participate and engage actively in tech conferences?

Amanda Brock: Enabling underrepresented groups to enter any room requires you to show people the door they need to enter through. I often say that it’s fine once you get through the door but finding it can be hard. The vast majority of people will be super kind and helpful when you get there, it’s finding what the door looks like, even knowing that exists that enables you to step through it.

For events a key starting point is for people from those underrepresented groups to be visible in a way that demonstrates that they are simply a part of a norm. This is the basis of normalisation and inclusion. Also make sure you budget to have free tickets for them to attend.

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“Enabling underrepresented groups to enter any room requires you to show people the door they need to enter through.”

devmio: What advice do you have for organisations looking to attract and retain more women in technology roles?

Amanda Brock: Find talented women with the right skills and experience. Please don’t put women into roles they are not ready for to enable your organisation to tick a box and set them up for failure. Ensure that they are supported and can be seen and heard, and if necessary provide coaching and mentoring to enable them to understand your organisation’s culture.

Be aware that what they value may be different and provide those things whether it’s flexible hours or the ability to work from home. Not rocket science but a starting point.

devmio: What role do mentorship and sponsorship play in advancing the careers of women in tech, and how can companies facilitate these relationships?

Amanda Brock: Mentors and sponsors play absolutely critical roles in the progression of women in tech, but this must come not from other women, but allies. One mentor or sponsor isn’t enough. You need multiple senior sponsors to fight your corner in case one moves on, isn’t around, or doesn’t have the right connections and influence themselves when you need it. Never underestimate the power of influence.

devmio: What are some of the key barriers that hinder the entry and progression of women in the tech industry, and how can these be overcome?

Amanda Brock: Education is a key issue in women entering the tech sector. Women (as I was) are often encouraged into the arts and away from science with the best of intentions. This has a clear and direct consequence that fewer women enter the tech workforce with technical skills and qualifications.

A second is the tech bro culture. It is not inclusive and companies operating that culture really need to revisit it.

“Open source only exists through collaboration.”

devmio: Looking ahead to 2024, what major trends do you foresee in the open source community?

Amanda Brock: Open Source has succeeded and is at the forefront of innovation and the heart of all digital and technological areas today. However, the pace and scale of adoption have not been matched by education and understanding of how to use it and do it well.

We will see a great deal of education, a refinement of the function and management of open source and the use of Open Source Program Offices and governments and regulators working to understand open source. That inevitably needs a focus on how it is used and to put a responsibility on the commercial users.

devmio: What role will collaboration and community-driven development play in shaping the future of open source projects in 2024?

Amanda Brock: Open source only exists through collaboration. That’s at its heart. We need contributors for any project to succeed and we have seen that those which have contributors from one organisation only become high risk. Collaboration will not be going away any time soon, and that means community. How we bring those people together to make that collaboration the best it can be is the next step.


Amanda Brock

Amanda Brock is the CEO of OpenUK. She brings expertise in open source technology and a 20+ year track record in digital transformation to the role. With a background as a senior lawyer, Amanda has extensive experience across multiple industries, including hardware, mobile, ISP, data center, and digital financial services. Under her leadership, Amanda rolled out the OpenUK Sustainability Strategy and is a well-known figure in the open-source community, regularly appearing as a keynote speaker, podcast guest, and panel participant on the topic of policy and legal issues.