Ada Lovelace Day Celebration of Angie Byron's Conributions to Open Source



March 23, 2010

Earlier this year I found out about Ada Lovelace Day (March 24th), and decided that I would pledge along with 1600+ others to blog about women who have contributed to science and technology. Fortunately, I am a Drupal developer, so there are lots of great examples of women taking leadership roles. I'm called to blog about the contributions of Angie Byron, known in the community as webchick.

Now Angie's been a Drupal user for 4 years 41 weeks (six weeks longer than I have), but according to Ohloh (a free public directory of open source software and people), she's put in 2x2 years of CSS & JavaScript, 2x3 years of PHP & HTML. Now that's just an estimate, but it's based on observable in code committed to revision control repositories. They place her as having 10 years of experience just in the code committed.

Frankly, since late 2008 a lot of the code she's been committing has been work done by others as she volunteered to be the Drupal 7 co-maintainer with Dries and they've both been committing work to core that was written by others. This is no small task and demands a lot of negotiations, careful consideration, and frankly a pretty thick skin some of the time. She's also involved in the IRC chats, the Drupal Association and I'm sure a lot of other stuff too.

Now let's remember for a bit how unusual it is to have a woman in the central role for a software project. It's worse in the free software world unfortunately. Straight, white men tend to dominate the landscape of the GPL. From a Women in Open Source talk at Open Web Vancouver 2009 it was noted that a women make up only 1.5% of contributors to open source projects. Women's participation in Drupal has 8-12% and shockingly proprietary software beats participation hands down with 28%.

Following that conference David Eaves wrote up this great post (with graphics) Remixing Angie Byron to create the next Million Mozillians. It's a problem, and one that she's put some good thought into resolving. It's worth noting that Angie was also celebrated by a bunch of folks in 2009.

That's just the stuff on paper. In person Angie is a relaxed, easily approachable person who has proved over and over again her interest in helping others. I know that my oldest daughter also found her a strong source of inspiration. It's great to have role models, even more so when they make an effort to involve young women in what is an exciting community project.

Thanks so much for all of your work over the years and may you get a bit of a break after the final release to unplug and relax!

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.