This was originally posted on my personal blog
Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging (videologging, podcasting, comic drawing etc.!) to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science.
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, whatever they do. It doesn’t matter how new or old your blog is, what gender you are, what language you blog in, or what you normally blog about – everyone is invited.
To be honest, I didn't feel much like writing for Ada Lovelace Day. It feels like writing is all I do lately: a paper and a poster proposal due this week, plus the all-consuming nature of my thesis proposal that I finally submitted this month after more than a year of work. I love research/coding and I even like writing, but when they're too far out of balance I start to feel like I'm one of those people who's all talk and no action.
But Jennifer Redman is one of the people who's been pulling me out of talking and into doing, which makes it even more important that I honour her today.
I don't honestly remember when I first met Jen online -- probably through Linuxchix or maybe Mailman -- but I got to meet her for the first time in person at GHC09 after she invited me to help out with the Systers code sprint.
Jen really grabbed my attention because she was using Systers to focus on something that sometimes gets overlooked: getting individual women who already know how to code to the point of making open source contributions. And not just in a general supportive way, but in a specific, defined, "here's a project, let's hack!" sort of way. And it doesn't hurt that geeking out with other women is fun. Not that computers for girls isn't a great idea, but getting more women involved now means we've got the role models we want for those girls. And here's Jen with some grand ideas and bugs to fix and a pile of virtual machines to get women playing around in open source software sooner rather than later.
I often hear talk of such ideas, but often no one has time to follow through. What makes Jen especially incredible is how dedicated she is to the follow through. She helps keep the Systers mailing lists running (and on-topic!) She got that code sprint together, and already has plans for next year. And now she's assembling an all-star team of mentors for the Systers GSoC 2010 projects, getting us all talking and thinking, and making sure we're committed, and ready to go both mentally and technically as the students start to arrive. She's got a great level head and a willingness to say what needs saying when things get rough -- her sane commentary on some really horrendous geek feminism issues made me feel just that much more grounded when we chatted at GHC. And I'm sure she's doing all sort of other awesome stuff that I don't even know about because I'm so wrapped up in my own world.
I've been scaling back my volunteer/open source activities for the past few years as I get more deeply involved in my PhD, which means that I say no to a lot of things. But Jen and Robin Jeffries chatted with me about doing archives at the code sprint, and managed to come up with exactly my perfect project: Mailman development (on archives, no less!) where I get to work one-on-one with students and women in computing. That's three of my favourite things right there! But I'd probably still have said no if some stranger came up and offered that to me. What makes this a project worth rearranging my life for is Jen: I don't know everyone else yet, but I know that if she's involved, things will happen, and I'm going to be proud to have been involved.
So thank you, Jen. Here's to a great summer!