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You are here: Home Blogs Community It's International Women's Day: Celebrating women in free software

It's International Women's Day: Celebrating women in free software

by Molly de Blanc Contributions Published on Mar 08, 2017 03:48 PM
The world of free software projects and the greater free software movement grow in success and visibility in no small part thanks to the developmental model that is enabled by the licenses and philosophies that drive free software. Many projects and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) itself have made leaps in creating more diverse and inclusive spaces over the past few years. I'm excited to celebrate International Women's Day by writing just a few of the many amazing women around the world who use their professional and personal time to drive freedom in technology.

Sacha Chua

The FSF loves GNU emacs. Its extensibility and customizability are unparalleled. We also know that there's a need for high quality documentation at all levels, especially introductions for people coming from a variety of technical and nontechnical backgrounds.

That's where Sacha Chua comes in.

A self-professed "emacs geek," Sacha, in her own words, "really, really like[s] the Emacs text editor." She's written extensively on emacs, and has combined her love of art with her love of this GNU Project by creating these nifty hand-drawn guides on How to Learn Emacs and emacs keyboard shortcuts. Of course, these are available for use and reuse under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license.

Sumana Harihareswara

It almost feels like cheating to talk about Sumana Harihareswara and all the work she has done for free software. Harihareswara will be delivering the closing keynote at LibrePlanet 2017 and I couldn't be happier to have the conference ending on such a note. She helped the volunteer and engineering communities of the Wikimedia Project reach new heights between 2011 and 2014, and has since become a stellar developer in her own right, contributing to a number of projects including GNU Mailman.

Shari Steele

After fifteen years as executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Shari Steele became the executive director of the Tor Project. The FSF has a lot of admiration for the Tor Project and the work they do. (The Library Freedom Project won the 2015 Free Software Award for Projects of Social Benefit for their outstanding work bringing Tor to libraries.)

Steele brings to Tor—a project using free software licenses—a skill set rarely talked about when we talk about contributors to free software projects. Directing a nonprofit, working with a board of directors, and managing the wide range of operations is a more than full-time job.

Jessica Tallon

Jessica Tallon became involved with GNU MediaGoblin as an Outreachy intern. Federation has been a major goal for GNU MediaGoblin for several years. In order to push their federation efforts further, the team offered an internship to Tallon and later hired her full time. Tallon joined the W3C Social Working Group, drafting recommendations for the standards that will define aspects of how the Web works. I know she's there representing the values of free software and working hard to make sure the future of the Web is free.


One of my favorite projects that has come out in support of women in technology is #WOCINTECHCHAT, or Women of Color in Tech Chat. One of their efforts was to create this beautiful, high quality photo set. They took over 500 photos representing women of color in technical settings, around offices, and using some great pieces of free software. (Click through to see a photo of GPL project Audacity in action.) One of the great things about this photo set is their use of a free [Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution license][20].

More resources

It would be impossible to mention all the women who work hard for free software and serve as inspirations for people both in and outside of the community. We use GNU Social and twitter, so message us, because we'll have opportunities to highlight them and their work in the future!

In the past, the FSF has celebrated Ada Lovelace Day with posts on other great women in free software.

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