A journey through open source is rarely something you do alone. Your hobby, career, and your life has been affected by others in the tech space, and statistically some of those people have been women. That's one of the many reasons International Women's Day exists, and it's a good excuse to reflect upon the women who have inspired your career in tech. We asked Opensource.com contributors for their thoughts.
Dr. Kathleen Greenaway
One of the women that inspired me was my university professor, Dr. Kathleen Greenaway. She was exactly who I wanted to be. I remember her saying at a women's event about breaking the glass ceiling that she couldn't believe that we were still talking about it so many years later. I now find myself thinking the very same thing. This is just one example, but she was it.
I owe my knowledge and start in PHP to Hilary Mason. While she was a professor at Johnson & Wales in Providence RI, she ran an elective study on server-side programming. She showed us PHP, and for a final project had us build something using a database. I think I built a simple login system and a commenting tool or something. I love telling folks I learned PHP from a woman (the lead data scientist at bit.ly, at that!)
The most inspirational woman in tech for me is Carie Fisher. I met her when I first started getting involved in the accessibility community. She invited me to help with projects and helped me through my impostor syndrome when applying to jobs, getting certified, and speaking at conferences. Her compassion and devotion to digital inclusion is matched by only a few.
I've been working in tech for 25 years and have often been the only female developer in a company or department. Then I joined Kanopi Studios, a women-owned and led agency with many smart, tech-savvy women from whom I am inspired every day. My gender is no longer a barrier to my career success. I feel respected and heard, and my accomplishments are recognized.
Barbara Liskov and Sandi Metz
I think Barbara Liskov is one of the most influential figures in our field I also really really like Sandi Metz, whose speaking and teaching skills helped me a lot in my career. I recommend any of her books or conference videos.
I have been inspired by a number of women in my life, both personally and professionally. I always say that my mother, my sister and my grandmother have been great references for me in everything. But I have great colleagues with whom I work today who, for me are my references. I always think something like: Those people who have been important to you, try to keep them close. When I was studying development, we had no references. No one taught us that the first programmer was a woman or that we have WiFi or GPS, thanks to a woman. There is a very good book that I am reading right now The Invisible Woman that I highly recommend.
Written by an amazing woman in tech, it brought to my attention to another amazing woman in tech, Engineering Management for the Rest of Us by Sarah Drasner. This book (and the amazing dev manager, Jody, who sent copies to all the leads) is the reason I am going to be facilitating some discussions about how we experience feedback differently. We realized that a lot of folks may not even really know how to talk about what they need or what works for them, so an open/casual chat where we share some good and bad experiences (optionally, of course) and look at some examples of different styles will hopefully be a really helpful collaborative learning experience.
My first book about women in tech, which was recommended to me at the WomenPower conference in Hannover, Germany, was Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Not only was I impressed by her own way but very much by how she managed to use the powers we as women are given and what makes us different for her own success and the company's success.
Your own influence
In open source, maybe more than anywhere, we all are influences on each other. Sharing and collaborating are built into the process of open source. Tell us about the influences you've had during your open source journey.