Matthew Garrett (mjg59) wrote,
Matthew Garrett

Today is Ada Lovelace day, a project to celebrate the women involved in technology and make it easier to give examples of female role models in the industry. I've had the opportunity to meet many women working on Linux over the past few years, and if there's one thing that's tended to overshadow the achievements and dedication to their work it's the sheer amount of effort they've had to go to in order to gain equal recognition. And that made me realise that in many ways, the woman who's had the greatest impact on my career is Hanna Wallach[1]. About ten years ago she spent a ridiculous amount of effort teaching me that it didn't matter how much I professed to be entirely free of sexism if I then proceeded to do things that implicitly excluded women from being involved in computing communities. I've gone to some amount of effort to repay that (contains profanity and a man with a raccoon tail covering his crotch), but I'm very aware of how different my life might have been if Hanna hadn't gone to the trouble of ensuring that I knew not to be a dick.

I think the Linux community has become more welcoming since then, and Hanna and people like her have been instrumental in helping that happen. However, we still have people being driven away by the behaviour of others or arguments that technical contributions are more important than social behaviour, and while that's true we need role models for social change just as much as we need role models for technical achievement. Thanks, Hanna[2]. The Linux world's a better place because of you.

[1] And while she's a role model of mine for social reasons, she's also got a PhD in machine learning, was British computer science student of the year in 2001 and came top of her MSc class at Edinburgh. So there.

[2] "Thanna"
Tags: adalovelaceday09, advogato, fedora

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