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Women in Open Source

080618-oss-girlsWe here at Pingdom have been talking about why we don’t see that many women in Open Source, and were actually about to investigate it further and possibly write a blog post about it.

However, when we started to actually look around we were happily surprised. There are lots of women involved in Open Source! For some reason men just seem to stick their nose out more and put themselves in positions where they are seen (and of course there are more of them).

That said, women do seem to be highly underrepresented in the Open Source community. A study from 2006, Flosspols report, indicates that about 1.5 % of the Open Source community is female compared to 28% in proprietary software.

The Open Source community is large, though, so that 1.5% amounts to a fair share of women.

There are several different groups and websites devoted to just women and Open Source such as: LinuxChix , Apache Women, BSDChix, Debian Women, Fedora Women, GNOME Women, KDE Women, Ubuntu Women, PHP Women and Drupalchix.

This post is our contribution to the community to highlight some of the women in Open Source and to hopefully engage other women to join.

Mitchell Baker

Included in Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2005. She is the Chairman of the Mozilla Foundation and Chairman and former CEO of Mozilla Corporation, the company that coordinates the development of Firefox and the Thunderbird email client.

Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper is an advocate of open source software and sits on the board of the Open Source Initiative. Previously she has worked at Sun where she created and managed the Open Source Programs Office among other things.

Kim Polese

Kim Polese is the CEO of SpikeSource, a provider of business-ready Open Source solutions. Previously she has spent seven years with Sun working as a Java product manager, and also acted as the president and CEO of Marimba during the dot-com era. She was included in Time magazine’s list of “The 25 Most Influential Americans” in 1997.

Margo I. Seltzer

Margo Seltzer was the CTO of Sleepycat Software prior to the acquisition by Oracle in 2006. She was the lead author of the BSD-LFS paper and is a director of the USENIX association while continuing to serve as an architect on the Oracle Berkeley database team.

Stormy Peters

Stormy Peters is a co-founder of the non-profit GNOME Foundation and frequently speaks about Open Source at major conferences. Stormy has also addressed the United Nations, the European Union and various U.S. state governments regarding Open Source software.

Mena Grabowski Trott

Mena Trott is the president and co-founder of the company Six Apart, creators of Movable Type and TypePad. She was named one of the People of the Year by PC Magazine in 2004.

Val Henson

Val Henson has worked at companies such as Intel, IBM and Sun. She is a specialist in file systems and was a key developer and architect for ZFS at Sun and is currently developing chunkfs, a new Linux file system.

Máirín Duffy

Máirín Duffy is a senior interaction designer with Red Hat and is the team lead of the Fedora art team. She is also involved in the GNOME project where she is working on the GNOME marketing team and has developed the GNOME brand book.

Allison Randal

Allison is the president of the Perl Foundation. She is a key figure in the Perl community and has been active in the Perl 6 design process since the start as a project manager as well as contributing code and design.

More women in Open Source

As you can imagine, we simply don’t have enough room in this blog to post about every woman in Open Source, but here are a few more examples of women who have made their mark in Open Source:

  • Dru Lavigne, maintainer of the Open Protocol Resource, writer for the “FreeBSD Basics” column on ONLamp, and author of BSD Hacks and The Best of FreeBSD Basics books.
  • Lynne Jolitz, an early BSD user and Open Source contributor and advocate.
  • Machtelt Garrels, Linux veteran, member of the Linux Documentation Project and BSD Certification Group Advisory Board and founder of the OpenDoc Society.
  • Pia Waugh, president of the organization that runs Software Freedom Day and the former president and vice-president of Linux Australia.
  • Radia Perlman, a contributor to network security, strong password protocols, IPSEC among other things. Silicon Valley Inventor of the Year in 2004.
  • Erinn Clark, a Debian developer as well as the leader and co-founder of Debian Women.
  • Hanna Wallach, a GNOME and Debian developer who helped the GNOME foundation to get its Women’s Summer Outreach Program off the ground.
  • Amaya Rodrigo Sastre, a Debian developer and co-founder of Debian Women, as well as conference organizer and evangelist.
  • Celeste Lyn Paul, participating in the KDE usability project as well as a member of the HCI working group. She has worked on the KDE4 Human Interface Guidelines.
  • Eva Brucherseifer, co-founder of KDE Women, the KDE Edu project and the KDE Solaris mailing list.

This list is of course nowhere near complete and is based on mentions in articles, blogs, mailing lists, etc.

A special thanks to ITtoolbox which had a blog post called Top 10 Girl Geeks in 2006 which acted as a starting point for this list.

We hope that this post has helped highlight some of the women in Open Source, and the fact that there actually are lots of talented women working with Open Source even though they often act behind the scenes.

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