Linux for Ladies Program Seeks to Train More Women in the Technology Field

Deborah Carter, senior manager of global talent development at Rackspace, speaking at Linux for Ladies information program at the Open Cloud Academy.

Deborah Carter, senior manager of global talent development at Rackspace, speaking at Linux for Ladies information program at the Open Cloud Academy.

Anna Eilering worked as a chef before becoming a software developer two years ago.

“I make four times the amount of money I made as a chef,” Eilering said.

She also has healthcare and other benefits as an employee at Rackspace in San Antonio. But it took her almost ten years working as a chef before she decided to go back to school and get a degree in computer science.

Today, Eilering, who sports bright pink hair, is co-organizer of SA PyLadies Meetup and loves her new career.

“We bring new, diverse ideas to the field,” Eilering said.

On Tuesday evening, Eilering spoke to a gathering of about 100 women and a few men attending an informational meeting on the Linux for Ladies program at Rackspace Open Cloud Academy at Geekdom. She was one of a handful of speakers who recounted their experiences as women working in the technology field dominated by male employees.

Rackspace, through its Linux for Ladies program, seeks to train more women for careers in the technology field. The San Antonio-based company launched Linux for Ladies two years ago and has since graduated 43 women from the program, and the majority have found careers in the technology field.

Among them, Laura McMasters got a scholarship to attend the first Linux for Ladies program in 2014. She left graduate school in physics to pursue a career as a Linux system administrator. She now works at Rackspace. She told all of the women that she was in their situation just a few years ago and she didn’t know if she would land one of the 20 spots in the class, but she worked hard, persevered and she got selected for the program. She told them she worked from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day of the program. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, she said.

The Linux for Ladies program has changed people’s lives, said Deborah Carter, senior manager of global talent development at Rackspace. Candidates come from all stages of life, she said. Some are students, others have had a career and want to pivot into something new and some are stay at home moms re-entering the workforce, she said.

The program costs $3,500 but Rackspace, in cooperation with Project Quest, is offering scholarships to 20 women. The requirements are the women must be 18 years or older and have a high school diploma to participate. It starts May 31st and lasts eight weeks. It runs Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To qualify for the program, applicants also have to have their Comp TIA network plus certification to participate. Rackspace’s Open Cloud Academy offers a self-paced program to achieve that certification.

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