24 March 2009

Where are the Alpha *Female* Hackers?

Today is Ada Lovelace Day:

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology.

Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Entrepreneurs, innovators, sysadmins, programmers, designers, games developers, hardware experts, tech journalists, tech consultants. The list of tech-related careers is endless.

Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. That’s a relatively simple problem to begin to address. If women need female role models, let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to. Let’s create new role models and make sure that whenever the question “Who are the leading women in tech?” is asked, that we all have a list of candidates on the tips of our tongues.

Not surprisingly, my first thought was: who have we got in the world of free software? There are certainly some big names like Mitchell Baker, Chief Lizard Wrangler of Mozilla and Stormy Peters, Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation.

But notice that both of these occupy executive positions: they hack business/legal/social systems. And while there are plenty of female coders contributing to free software projects, I can't think of any high-profile ones that might stand alongside the obvious alpha males in the coding world.

Now, this is probably due to my ignorance as much as anything. So I'd like to put out a call for names that I ought to know in this context - women who code at a high level, and whose names I should be mentioning more often. And as a pendant I'd also be interested on people's thoughts as to how we can nurture more top-flight female hackers.

Update: Just come across this great List of women in Open Source.


Anonymous said...

What about Allison Randal?

glyn moody said...

Yes, that's the kind of person I was looking for - thanks.

Anonymous said...

And let's not forget Joanna Rutkowska

glyn moody said...

Thanks - she wasn't known to me before.