Passing It On Through the Summer of Code

This year is the 10th anniversary of Google’s Summer of Code (GSoC) and the 5th anniversary of’s Systers community’s participation as a mentoring organization in the program.  Our Systers community has mentored many students (female and male) over the years.  Last year we mentored six students and this year we hope to support ten.

Google Summer of Code is a global program for 18 and older student software developers to write code for various open source projects and receive a paid stipend. The concept came from the idea that Google wanted students to spend their summers coding rather than in a fast food restaurant, flip bits rather than flip burgers. It’s come a long way since 2004 and this year, 190 mentoring organizations have been accepted to participate. Systers is honored to be among them.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of GSoC is the exposure and experience in coding open source projects that students receive. Not only are they learning, but they are collaborating with a global open source community.  And finally, students are contributing to real-world, usable products.  They get to work on a range of key skills from user interface design, to technical architecture and to programming languages.

This year Systers is partnering with the Peace Corps on open source projects. The Peace Corps is a global organization with volunteers around the world and throughout many developing countries. Technology is important for their communication, reporting and community engagement. They have many volunteer technology projects that get started, but never finished. Systers will help them with these projects and other technology applications (e.g. web, mobile, crowd sourcing, etc.) that can be deployed to help volunteers and their home stay communities while they are on assignments.

In addition to supporting students this year we hope to engage members of the Systers community who are re-entering the workforce and want to learn more about new technologies, programming languages and coding techniques.  This is a great way to support them transitioning back into the industry.

There is no way that we could do this without the participation of our community.  Year after year we have amazing volunteers who step up to mentor students and other participants in this program and others.  They are people who continue to “pass on” the legacy of other leading women in computing such as Grace Hopper and Anita Borg.  Not only do they pass on the legacy through their volunteer work but also by enabling us to commit the $500 per student mentoring fee that Google provides to our “Pass It On” awards.  These are small grants that are provided to women technologists for projects, education, mentoring or other technology related activities.

Thanks to Google Summer of Code and our incredible Systers and male volunteers we are able to take one good technology thing and make it many good things so that we can continue to pass on the interest in computing to the next generation.

If you’re a student and would like to participate, you can apply here >> Systers GSoC application.

If you are a woman who wants to just get involved in open source, you can contact Her Syster’s Keeper, Rose Robinson.

In Systerhood