Changing The Conversation

Article Source jonobacon@home
September 29, 2009, 10:41 pm

I am tired of seemingly only ever reading about the topic of women in Open Source within the context of a conflict scenario which typically spawns a spat over whether specific behaviour is deemed offensive or not. It feels like the topic has become very one-dimensional.

I am more interested in talking about the awesome, positive and inspiring stories of women in Open Source, with the intention that it will inspire us all to not only recognise these rock stars, but to also continue to grow a safe and fair environment in which other women can be inspired to get involved in the world changing opportunity that is Open Source, Free Software and Free Culture.

Some time ago there was a terrific meme that kicked off around Ada Lovelace day, and I would like to encourage you all to join me in resurrecting this meme. Today I want to talk about five women who inspire me every day when I switch on my computer.

Allison Randal – Allison is well respected in the Perl comunity, chair of the Parrot Foundation, and deeply involved in the FLOSS Foundations group. She is also well known at O’Reilly, one of the organizers of OSCON and was instrumental in helping me to make the Community Leadership Summit a reality. Allison is someone who I have known for about three years now, and every time I come away from a conversation with her, it always makes me think that she is the epitome of the Open Source contributor: kind, considerate, wicked-smart, balanced and excited about her work. She is…in a word…awesome.
Amber Graner – In the short period of time that Amber has been involved in the Ubuntu community, she has had a tremendous impact. Beginning with her frank yet always respectful blog entries that scrutinized our community, she has joined us to make Ubuntu her passion too. She has been deeply involved in the LoCo community, Open Week planning, has participated extensively in UDS remotely, has been involved in event organization at Atlanta Linux Fest and more. What I love about Amber is her practical, approachable and humour-laden approach to her work. When Amber walks in, she makes a difference, and I am proud that she is part of our community.
Rikki Kite – For those of us who tread the boards of the Open Source conference circuit, you won’t go far without seeing Rikki. She is the Associate Publisher and Managing Editor of Linux Pro Magazine and Ubuntu User Magazine. Rikki’s passion is deliver great stories about real work by real people. She has always been there to give a voice to everyone from the bedroom hacker to the corporate executive. Rikki has really driven the success behind Ubuntu User and her commitment and endless devotion to her work makes her an utter delight to be around when I see her…typically, at a conference.
Ara Pulido – Ara works for Canonical on the Ubuntu QA team and she is deeply involved in building automated tests, smoke testing, and encouraging our wider community to get involved in improving the quality of Ubuntu. She is active in Ubuntu, upstream and demonstrates an incredible responsiveness and eagerness for her work and Ubuntu. As an example, I asked Ara to work on a last-minute EC2 test plan for Karmic the day she got back from her vacation and she had it ready within a day to an incredible level of quality. It is people like Ara which make Ubuntu what it is.
Leann Ogasawara – Leanne also works for Canonical and works on triaging and managing our collection of kernel bugs. She has an epic reputation for productivity in Canonical and the community and our kernel story would be very different if it were not for contributions. Leanne is also involved in hardware testing, working with the upstream kernel community, ISO testing, working with the mobile team, taking part in community initiatives such as Ubuntu Developer Week and 5-A-Day and many other areas. She is a blast to work with, is great fun and has a wicked sense of humour.

Before I wrap up, I want to highlight one other woman who inspires me every day: my wife, Erica. She was reluctant for me to feature her as she wanted the above five women to be the focus of this post, but I have never met someone so driven, yet so grounded, and I am incredibly fortunate to have her in my life every day.