Ada Lovelace Day helps to “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”. I was tempted to talk about Mitchell Baker (Chief Lizard Wrangler at Mozilla) but the Ada Day specifically requested “unsung heroes”, so I’m going to give you the ABC of great women you probably don’t already know:
The first, actually, you probably do: Allison Randal. She sometimes blogs on O’Reilly Radar, but not as often as we like. Allison succeeded me in four projects, and made me look bad every time! She ran the Perl Foundation better than I did, she ran Perl 6 better than I did, she was a better editor than I was, and you don’t need a math degree to figure out how smoothly OSCON ran without me last year …. I admire the way Allison is a humane manager who succeeds in getting forward progress, even out of the most difficult to manage people, yet she’d much rather be coding. She’s a linguist, a compiler writer of mad skills, has been the driving force behind Parrot (congrats on 1.0!), and is a deeply sane person in an industry too-often burdened by ego, vanity, and fantasy.
The second is Brenda Wallace. She’s also a rock-solid developer, but has taken on much of the social organising of geek events in Wellington, New Zealand. Software folks are great at spotting gaps in code coverage, but they often have a blind spot for gaps in social coverage. Brenda’s run geek girl events, SuperHappyDevHouse, Open Days, Hack Days, and more. She’s always finding ways to get developers meeting developers. She rallied many troops for New Zealand’s fight against bad copyright law. And, as if that wasn’t enough, she has more gadgets than anyone else I’ve met in NZ!
The third is Courtney Johnston. She works for the National Library of New Zealand. I especially appreciate liminal people, those who live at the intersection of worlds. Courtney bridges three: art, libraries, and the web. She can bring the world view, the values, the techniques, and knowledge from one community to the others, enriching them all. She’s passionate about the potential for galleries, libraries, archives, and museums to not just survive but thrive in the digital world. And, like Allison and Brenda, Courtney is an amplifier: she is working to share knowledge and build networks that make other people more effective and powerful in what they do.
Lady Ada would be proud.