It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in tech, especially open source, but their contributions speak for themselves.

Tech has long had a diversity problem, but in open source, it’s even worse. U.S. Bureau of Labor data shows that 19.4% of software developers are women, but according to a 2017 GitHub open-source survey, 95% of respondents were men and just 3% were women (1% identified as non-binary). The reasons are various, but one key reason may simply be that open source communities can be unfriendly to women developers.

According to that same GitHub survey, it’s not that women developers don’t want to contribute to open-source projects. Actually, 68% of the women surveyed said they are “very interested” in contributing to open source, but are significantly less likely to do so than men. Even so, we do have a rising number of women open source stars who are contributing to and/or maintaining open source projects. So, among all impressive women out there, here are a few to watch.

Some people who made Ruff’s list are well-known developer rock stars. It’s hard to talk about observability, for example, without mentioning Jaana Dogan. Dogan is a force of open-source nature, contributing extensively to the Go programming language, Open Telemetry, Prometheus, and more.  Or consider Michelle Noorali, a shining light in the Kubernetes constellation. She spends considerable time making it easier to develop and manage containerized and distributed applications on Kubernetes, with significant contributions to Helm, Draft, Cloud Native Application Bundles (CNAB), and Service Mesh Interface (SMI), among others.

If you’re a Postgres geek, specifically, PostGIS (adding support for geographic objects allowing location queries to be run in SQL), Regina Obe is “the rock PostGIS is built upon,” according to Paul Ramsey. If you use Redis, you benefit from Madelyn Olson’s work as one of the project’s five maintainers.

Into Kubernetes? You can thank a number of women. For example, Nikhita Raghunath is a core maintainer for the project. For Kube-state-metrics, you’re depending on Lili Cosic. The Kubernetes Native Policy Engine? That’s Shuting Zhao. Plus I’m sure there are others I’m simply not aware of—yet.

Still in the cloud-native community, consider Alyssa Wilk and Asra Ali, two key maintainers for Envoy. Within the Istio project, maintainers include women like Mariam John, Andra Cismaru, Lin Sun, Cynthia Coan, Iris Ding, and others. Open Service Mesh? Sneha Chhabria, Shalier Xia, Sanya Kochhar, Kalya Subramanian, and more. On the list of maintainers for all Cloud Native, Computing Foundation projects you will see a number of other women doing impressive work.

Look at projects like Os boot, maintained by Leah Rowe; Porter, maintained by Carolyn Van Slyck; Cwtch, maintained by Sarah Jamie Lewis; I2P, maintained by Sadie Doreen; OctoPrint3D, created and maintained by Gina Häußge; the compile-time regular expression library for C++, maintained by Hana Dusíková; and many more.

We definitely need to encourage more women to contribute code, as well as to contribute through docs (like Ashleigh Brennan, who maintains the Knative docs) or community building (like Paris Pittman does for Kubernetes) or project leadership (like Liz Fong-Jones does for Open Telemetry).

There are many other ways and means to contribute. We have named a few women who make open-source better. It’s time, as RedMonk’s James Governor has encouraged, to listen to women’s voices and increasingly recognize them in the communities that build our world through open-source code.


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Nikoleta Yanakieva Editor at DevStyleR International