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The 2016 Women in Open Source Award

Honor. Celebrate. Inspire.

We believe that open source is the future of technology—and that it's time to recognize the contributions women are making.


Nominations are now closed

Our judges will review all nominations and select the finalist for each award. Check back in February 2016 to vote for the winners!

According to 1 survey, only 11% of open source participants are women. Together, we can raise that number and inspire a new generation to join the open source movement. Read on to learn more about past award winners and finalists who are making a difference using open source.

Award process

Recognizing women's contributions to open source

We’re looking for women who make important contributions to an open source project or the open source community, including:

  • Code and programming.
  • Quality assurance and bug triage.
  • Involvement in open hardware.
  • System administration and infrastructure.
  • Design, artwork, user experience, and marketing.
  • Documentation, tutorials, and other communications.
  • Translation and internationalization.
  • Open content.
  • Community advocacy and community management.
  • Intellectual property advocacy and legal reform.
  • Open source methodology.

Nominees qualify for 2 distinct awards

  • Women in Open Source Academic Award: Women who are enrolled in college or university
  • Women in Open Source Community Award: All other women

Nominations are now closed, but check back in February 2016 to vote for the winners!

2015 Award Winners

The first annual Women in Open Source Award winners

Sarah Sharp, embedded software architect at Intel, and Kesha Shah, a student at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology, have been chosen as the first winners of the annual Women in Open Source Award.

Special thanks to everyone who helped spread the word, nominated women from their communities, and voted to determine the winners.

Meet our 2015 winners

Sarah Sharp

2015 Community Award winner

Sarah won the Community Award for her efforts in improving communications and inviting women into open source communities. Sarah coordinates Linux® kernel mentors for Outreachy (formerly the Outreach Program for Women), which helps underrepresented groups get involved in open source software projects. An outspoken proponent of improving communications among kernel developers, Sarah helps make open source communities more civil, collaborative, and welcoming. Sarah was the author and former maintainer of the Linux USB 3.0 host controller driver. She has also developed open source amateur rocket software and hardware—built by the Portland State Aerospace Society—and open source software to power her garden's automated water systems.

  • Full biography

    Embedded software architect at Intel
    Open source contributor for 10+ years

    Projects or communities:
    Linux, Yocto Project, GNOME Outreach Program for Women (OPW), Ada Initiative, Portland State Aerospace Society

    Summary of contributions:
    Sarah is the author and former maintainer of the Linux USB 3.0 host controller driver and has been involved in Linux kernel development since 2006. She coordinated kernel internships for the Outreach Program for Women (OPW) for 2 years, leading both OPW and several OPW interns to become topranked Linux kernel contributors. During that time, 21 women interned and dozens more applicants made their first patches for the kernel. Sarah now helps coordinate the overall OPW program. An outspoken proponent of improving communications among kernel developers to be more courteous and friendly to diverse new contributors, Sarah consistently pushes to make communities more welcoming and civil. As a result, she was appointed to the Ada Initiative advisory board. Sarah’s open source contributions include amateur rocket software and hardware built by the Portland State Aerospace Society and software to power her garden’s automated watering systems.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    In the next year, Sarah will continue her work as a coordinator for the FOSS Outreach Program for Women (OPW), which has been renamed Outreachy. Sarah recently switched to the Intel Open Source Technology Center's Embedded Systems group, which works on the Yocto Project and minimizing the footprint of Linux.

Kesha Shah

2015 Academic Award winner

Kesha, a full-time student, won in the Academic category for her outstanding coding and mentoring work while studying information and communication technology. Being part of Google Summer of Code program multiple times, Shah contributed to three open source organizations, Systers- an Anita Borg Institute, BRL-CAD and STEPcode. She also mentored at Season Of KDE, Learn IT Girls! and Google Code-In, helping pre-university students from across the globe develop their first open source contributions, and is currently director for Women Who Code in Gujarat. Shah was a recipient of prestigious Google Anita Borg Memorial Asia-Pacific Scholarship and Anita Borg Pass It On winner for teaching basic computer and smartphone technologies to middle-aged women, especially mothers in her province. Shah has mentored many students' initial open source development contributions and guided many of them toward becoming regular contributors.

  • Full biography

    Student at Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology
    Studying B.Tech in Information and Communication Technology
    Open source contributor for 2 years

    Projects or communities:
    KDE meetup, BRLCAD, STEPcode, Google CodeIn, Mozilla

    Summary of contributions:
    Kesha’s first contribution was an outreach article for KDE meetup. The community encouraged her to participate in Google Summer of Code program, where she contributed to two open source organizations, BRL-CAD and STEPcode. Kesha is mentor in Google Code-In, where she helps pre-university kids all over the globe to make first contributions. She is currently mentor to add new activities to Gcompris (educational suite for 2-10 year children) under Season of KDE and Learn IT, Girl!. She also served as Mozilla student ambassador last year. She has given lightning talks on open source and Google Summer of Code during Google Women TechMaker Event. She has personally helped 20 newbies get involved in open source, among which more than 10 have become regular contributors. Kesha is an advocate working towards increasing woman in technology. She is director for Woman Who Code, Gujarat and Google Anita Borg Asia Pacific Memorial Scholar 2014.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Kesha has developed from being a newbie to a contributor to many projects and has seen others like her succeed and fail in equal measure. So, she plans to motivate and help more people to get involved in open source and make contributions by continuing to mentor new students through programs like Google Code In, Learn IT, Girl!, Outreach Program for Women, Google Summer of Code, Season of KDE etc. She also plans to organize workshops, hackathons and sessions locally. She hopes that students mentored by her will find the open source community useful and become long time contributors.

Meet our 2015 finalists

Community Award

  • Shauna Gordon-McKeon

    Shauna GordonMcKeon
    program director at OpenHatch
    Open source contributor for 4 years

    Projects or communities:
    OpenHatch, Open Science Collaboration, Open Government Boston

    Summary of contributions:
    As a Program Director at OpenHatch, Shauna is responsible for organizing Open Source Come to Campus workshops on college campuses with the hope of making open source more welcoming to newcomers, specifically women and other underrepresented groups. These workshops have a tremendous impact in involving students in free and open source software, and under Shauna’s leadership the number of workshops that take place has grown to dozens a year around the country. Shauna has also run online tutorials and presented at a number of conferences, recently speaking during Open Source Day at the Grace Hopper Conference '14. Additionally, she runs an open science blog aimed at promoting and discussing how to make the scientific community more open and accessible. Since 2011 she has run a meetup group promoting open government in the Boston area.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Over the next year, Shauna hopes to grow OpenHatch's outreach events to include more people on and off campus, including kids, scientists, librarians, activists, designers, and more. She also hopes to extend her open science advocacy into the medical community, where she plans to collaborate with and contribute to projects which empower patients and push for access to lifesaving knowledge.

  • Elizabeth K. Joseph

    Elizabeth K. Joseph
    Systems engineer at HP
    Open source contributor for 12 years

    Projects or communities:
    OpenStack, Partimus, Ubuntu, LinuxChix, LUG, Systers, CodeChix, Ubuntu Community Council, Ubuntu Women

    Summary of contributions:
    A long time contributor to Ubuntu, Elizabeth has also become well known in the OpenStack community for her contributions and commitment to open source infrastructure as an automation and tools engineer on the OpenStack Project at HP. She is dedicated to bringing open source computing to areas of the world that don't have access to computers. Through Partimus, Elizabeth has helped repurpose old hardware to furnish classrooms that otherwise couldn't afford a lab. She has even assisted with deployments of computer labs in Africa. In 2014, Elizabeth delivered over 20 talks on subjects ranging from Ubuntu release notes to system automation. She coauthored the Official Ubuntu Book, 8th edition, and is currently authoring her second book. She's been in the Community Council for 5 years, and has been involved in the Ubuntu Women group for 8 years.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Elizabeth was an early contributor to the Ubuntu Women Project and is also active in Systers, CodeChix, and LinuxChix. A frequent speaker on career development for women in tech, she’s known for her advocacy of diversity. In addition to focusing more on development work with the infrastructure team of OpenStack, she's working on her second open source book. She also plans to revitalize, the nonprofit she works with that puts Linuxbased computers in schools. Elizabeth will continue to advocate for open source infrastructure and software for the foreseeable future through talks and articles about OpenStack's open source project infrastructure.

  • Deb Nicholson

    Deb Nicholson
    Community outreach director at MediaGoblin
    Open source contributor for 8 years

    Projects or communities:
    Free Software Foundation (FSF), Ada Initiative, GNU MediaGoblin, Boston Software Freedom Day, Free Software Women’s Caucus MiniSummit, Open Invention Network (OIN), OpenHatch

    Summary of contributions:
    Deb is an ardent promoter of free software who has worked at FSF, Ada Initiative, and GNU MediaGoblin. For several years, she has helped organize the Boston Software Freedom Day, in Boston or Cambridge depending on the year. Deb organized the Free Software Women's Caucus MiniSummit in 2009, including initial planning and coordination for Boston Girl Scouts Inkscape and Gimp classes. The MiniSummit led to additional outreach activities for women in the Boston area. Deb is a community outreach director at the Open Invention Network, which maintains and grows a defensive patent pool for open source software, reaching out to open source developers and working with them to assemble patent filings or contribute patents to the OIN pool. Deb is a board member for OpenHatch, a community that helps onboard new contributors to open source projects and helped start the Boston Python Workshops.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Deb plans to continue bringing open source and free software to a more diverse set of users and contributors through her leadership in projects such as MediaGoblin and OpenHatch. She hopes to continue strengthening OIN's defensive pool via outreach to open source developers and helping open source fight patent trolls.

  • Karen Sandler

    Karen Sandler
    executive director, Software Freedom Conservancy
    Open source contributor for almost 10 years

    Projects or communities:
    Software Freedom Conservancy, Software Freedom Law Center, GNOME Foundation, GNOME Outreach Program for Women

    Summary of contributions:
    Motivated by a heart condition that required her to have an implanted device that runs proprietary software, Karen conducted research about vulnerability and lack of software testing for medical devices and shared it with the public. She provided legal support to numerous free software projects as a General Counsel at the Software Freedom Law Center, and continues to do so pro bono. As an Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation she passionately communicated the value of bringing a free desktop to millions of users, led two successful campaigns to enhance GNOME's accessibility and privacy, and expanded the Outreach Program for Women to include dozens of free software organizations. She is currently the Executive Director of the Software Freedom Conservancy, serves on the board of the GNOME Foundation, continues to coorganize the Outreach Program for Women, and cohosts the “Free as in Freedom” podcast.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Karen intends to continue to draw attention to free and open source software and how critical it is for society. She wants to grow Conservancy and help bring more stability to free and open source software. She is also interested in helping with conflicts of interest in free software by raising attention to the conflicts and providing mechanisms that projects can use to avoid them. She believes that free and open source software is an amazing cause, and she'd like everyone to know how important it is and help it grow and thrive.

Academic Award

  • Charul

    Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad
    Open source contributor for 1 year

    Projects or communities:
    Mozilla, Fedora, GNOME Outreach Program for Women, Datagrepper, Shumgrepper

    Summary of contributions:
    Charul began contributing to FOSS organizations as a student ambassador in Mozilla, with a focus on community building. She is a contributor to the Fedora project Datagrepper and interned with the GNOME Outreach Program for Women. The internship increased her interest in open source projects and inspired her to want to create awareness among people about open source. Charul has learned webdevelopment and programming languages like JavaScript, PHP, HTML, CSS, and python webdevelopment frameworks. She has also organized workshops in her college promoting Mozilla products and raising awareness about open source internships. In 2014, she participated in Google Summer of Code and worked with the Fedora infrastructure team on project Shumgrepper. She presented at PyCon India in 2014.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Charul hopes to continue her education in datamining. She plans to continue contributing to open source projects, attending open source conferences, and organizing workshops for girls that create interest in computing fields and teach them basic concepts and programming languages. She hopes to be a medium through which girls can get guidance on computing fields. Charul and her friends hope to build a website that serves as a central source of coding events, internship opportunities, and scholarships, with an emphasis on opportunities specifically for women.

  • Sophia D'Antoine

    Sophia D’Antoine
    Student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    Studying Computer Science and Computer System’s Engineering, bachelor’s and master’s degree
    Open source contributor for 5 years

    Projects or communities:
    DynamoRIO, RPISEC, Fairgame

    Summary of contributions:
    Sophia's interest in the field of computer security has influenced her work and endeavors in open source. In the past she worked on a runtime code manipulation system, DynamoRIO, which Dr. Memory, a popular memory analyzer for Windows and Linux is built from. Her project executes transformations on instructions as they are executing. Sophia has contributed to open source educational programs through RPISEC, the security club on campus. She has organized weekly courses that provide introductory and advanced material on security topics. These courses attract 50 students on average ranging from computer scientists to high school girls interested in learning more about the discipline. She helped develop an online security competition, Fairgame, with RPISEC that attracted 300+ students. She continues to provide open education through a course offered in the spring semester on modern secure coding practices.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Sophia aims to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degree. She’s working on a research paper with two graduate students and her master’s thesis on malware. She will continue contributing to Rensselaer Center for Open Source and expanding educational resources for computer security and cyber issues through RPISEC. Sophia hopes to pursue a career in computer security and create open source content, tools, and software. She hopes to expand programmers’ ability to fix security weaknesses, find potential application errors, and understand the threats that vulnerable code can sustain.

  • Emily Dunham

    Emily Dunham
    Oregon State University
    Studying computer science
    Open source contributor for 4 years

    Projects or communities:
    Oregon State University Open Source Lab, Bravo, Ops School, Oregon State University DevOps BootCamp, LUG

    Summary of contributions:
    Emily is a student systems administrator at the Oregon State University Open Source Lab, and has contributed to a variety of larger open source projects as well as being a maintainer on several smaller projects. In 2013, Emily founded the DevOps BootCamp program at Oregon State University to bridge the skills gap for students and community members interested in open source. Emily designed the curriculum, which consisted of 20 weeks of lessons and draws anywhere from 10-20 students per meeting. The kickoff event, DevOps DayCamp, was attended by 100+ participants. Recently Emily has been mentoring the future leaders of DevOps BootCamp to ensure the continuation of the program after she graduates. She served as president of the OSU Linux User Group, and has been an officer in the robotics club and the computer security club. Emily has spoken at open source conferences including O'Reilly OSCON, and LinuxFest Northwest.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Emily will graduate from Oregon State University with her bachelor's degree in computer science in June 2015. She is pursuing a career where she can continue refining her technical knowledge and contributing to open source projects. Emily is passionate about promoting open source technologies to businesses, since FOSS communities benefit from more contributors and companies benefit from better code. She will continue her contributions to the Ops School curriculum and other free learning resources, as well. Emily will always be working on the next software tool to automate herself out of a job, regardless of what that job might entail.

  • Netha Hussain

    Netha Hussain
    Government Medical College, Kozhikode, University of Calicut
    Earning a bachelor of medicine and surgery
    Contributing for 5 years

    Project or communities:
    Wikimedia, WikiWomen and WikiLoves Pride, Mozilla, Ted translate, Ada Initiative and AdaCamp, GeekFeminism, Fossbox

    Summary of contributions:
    Netha writes Wikipedia articles in English and Malayalam about healthcare, literature, and women. The pilot volunteer for WikiWomen's Collaborative, she organized events that brought many active contributors to Wikipedia and its sister projects, including a series in India during Women’s History Month that brought 800+ new English and Indian Wikipedia articles. She steers WikiLoves Pride, bringing LGBTrelated articles to India. At her medical school, she is WikimedianinResidence and Firefox student ambassador, promoting free culture and privacy and security on the web. She has presented at international conferences including Open Source Bridge, Wikimania, Mozilla Summit, and Wikimedia Diversity Conference. Netha facilitated AdaCamp sessions in Portland and Washington D.C. and helped organize AdaCamp in Bangalore. She organizes Mozilla community events and helps with localization. She is Manager for Malayalam language for TED, translating inspiring TED talks under CCBYSA license. She contributes to GeekFeminism wiki and serves on the Executive Committee of Fossbox.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    By next year, Netha plans to reach her goal of creating at least 500 new Wikipedia articles during Women’s History Month. She wants to expand her reach to more languages, especially those spoken in South Asia. In the Mozilla Guides program, she hopes to mentor 5+ new contributors. At TED, she hopes to build a critical mass of volunteers for Malayalam language, engage them via social media, and make the Malayalam TED Talks the best translated among Indian languages. As a funding committee member with Wikimedia’s Inspire campaign, she plans to mentor grant proposal teams and advise the Wikimedia Foundation.

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Download the complete rules [PDF] for the Women in Open Source Award.

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