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The 2017 Women in Open Source Award

Honor. Celebrate. Inspire.

We believe open source is the future of technology. It's time to recognize the contributions women are making and inspire a new generation to join the open source movement.


Voting is closed.

Thanks for recognizing these women's contributions to open source with your vote. Winners will be announced at the Red Hat Summit in May.

Our judges narrowed down a record number of nominations to 10 outstanding finalists. With your help, we’ll recognize 2 women with the 2017 Women in Open Source Awards.

According to 1 survey,1 only 11% of open source participants are women. Together, we can raise that number. Read on to learn more about this year’s finalists and past award winners who are making a difference in open source communities.

1. Laura Arjona-Reina, L., Robles, G., Dueñas, S. The FLOSS2013 Free/Libre/Open Source Survey. January 2014.

Meet our finalists

Community Award

  • Amira Dhalla

    Amira Dhalla
    Lead, Women and Web Literacy, Mozilla Foundation
    Open source contributor for more than 5 years

    Projects or communities:

    Summary of contributions:
    Amira Dhalla is a skilled facilitator and presenter who speaks about the importance of protecting the web as a global public resource, developing inclusive learning spaces, and female empowerment. She has been teaching digital skills to young girls in Toronto and New York City for over 7 years. Through this work, she discovered the value of open resources—curriculum, tools, and content—that are available to anyone. An open source contributor, she works on programs that allow more people to access and use the web through open leadership and web education. Two years ago, Amira started Mozilla Clubs, a program that collectively creates resources for educators and advocates around the world to teach key digital literacy skills in their communities to people of all ages. Under her leadership, the program has grown to 500 clubs in 100+ cities around the world, and last year Amira collaborated with United Nations Women to expand the program with the launch of 30+ local learning groups led by women, for women. She co-hosts a monthly curriculum call with industry leaders and has personally created curricula focused on cyber violence against women, developing safe and inclusive events for women and girls, cyber security, web literacy, leadership, and more. She also leads Mozilla's community programs focused on women and girls.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Amira is an active voice for inclusion on the web and will continue her advocacy efforts to make the internet more accessible, open, and inclusive to women and those of diverse backgrounds. She is continuously developing more resources and materials that help individuals teach their communities how to read, write, and participate on the web. She is excited to grow Mozilla Clubs and create a healthier internet while working on more programs that help eliminate the gender divide in technology. Amira is continuing her advocacy efforts through research on the state of women online, gender-specific curriculum that teaches privacy and security, and serves on many committees that address open innovation and gender issues locally and globally. She is also working on an open source self-care guide for women.

  • Avni Khatri

    Avni Khatri
    Program manager, Knowledge and Learning Technologies group, Laboratory of Computer Science, Massachusetts General Hospital
    Open source contributor for more than 16 years

    Projects or communities:
    Kids on Computers, OpenACS, For A Living

    Summary of contributions:
    Avni Khatri started in open source while at ArsDigita, where she helped develop a framework that would eventually become OpenACS. Avni’s dream is for everyone—especially kids—to have unlimited access to education so that they have more autonomy over their lives and the ability to improve their communities. She sees free and open source software (FOSS) as instrumental to realizing this vision, and has worked to bring technology to underserved communities around the world with the non-profit Kids on Computers. As a volunteer since 2010 and the organization’s president since 2012, Avni has traveled to remote communities in Mexico, India, and Morocco to install school labs with Linux computers, FOSS applications, and open content such as offline Wikipedia and Khan Academy, and to enable local volunteers to support the labs. She recently co-founded For a Living, a new open source platform that will allow students to learn about different careers by interviewing professionals based on jobs, interests, and skill sets. She was a co-chair of the Open Source Track at The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2010, was co-chair of the conference’s Open Source Day in 2011 and 2012, and she has spoken and presented at many conferences such as SCALE, OSCON, and the ACS-AEI Consortium meeting. As a program and engineering manager for educational technology projects at Massachusetts General Hospital, she builds solutions using exclusively open source technologies like Git, Postgres, OpenACS, Django, HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3, OpenShift, CentOS, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) in production.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Avni sees open source communities as open, inclusive cultures that allow people to build skills and friendships. She believes open source software and open content allow people to easily share knowledge and data, and break boundaries. To further her vision, she plans to continue her work with Kids on Computers and For A Living, where the team plans to crowdsource videos from professionals, building a public video library that anyone can use to learn about different careers.

  • Heather Kirksey

    Heather Kirksey
    Vice president of NFV, Linux Foundation
    Open source contributor for more than 10 years

    Projects or communities:
    OPNFV, MongoDB

    Summary of contributions:
    Bringing years of broadband and internet standards experience as well as open source experience with MongoDB, Heather Kirksey is transforming the telecommunications industry through the Open Platform for Network Functions Virtualization (OPNFV) project. She is bridging the gap between a historically slow-moving industry and the open source community, which is still fairly new to solving networking challenges and developing carrier-grade features. Since OPNFV started in 2014, Heather has initiated collaboration with 10 upstream projects and organizations and engaged more than 280 developers. She has led the community through 3 platform releases and 2 OPNFV Summits, and she has grown the project to include 54 member organizations that include traditional telecommunications companies, service providers, vendors, and research institutions, along with key stakeholders across the networking ecosystem. Heather is also an advocate for women and underrepresented groups in open source and the telecommunications industry. She is a member of Light Reading’s Women in Comms, and has spoken on numerous panels that promote women in tech. She has established a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination within the OPNFV community and its related events. Onsite child care and private space for nursing mothers are provided at OPNFV Summit, and next year there will be inclusive bathrooms with prominent signage. She also hosts an OPNFV Women and Allies event at each OPNFV Summit to recognize and promote diversity within the community. Heather has been instrumental in encouraging the Linux Foundation to be more proactive about promoting diversity in their broader policies and programs.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Heather plans to grow the impact of open source in the telecommunications industry, with a special focus on international members. She will also continue to evolve OPNFV, develop stronger integration with more upstream communities, recruit more developers from all backgrounds, grow the OPNFV internship program to empower students, and move open source NFV into the enterprise sector beyond telecommunications.

  • Jessie Frazelle

    Jessie Frazelle
    Software engineer, Google
    Open source contributor for 4 years

    Projects or communities:
    Docker, Kubernetes, Golang, runC

    Summary of contributions:
    Jessie Frazelle is a major contributor to Docker and Kubernetes, as well as other open source projects and communities like runC and Golang. Her contributions to Docker include 1,478 comments and reviews to pull requests, 341 of her own pull requests, 884 comments to issues, and 114 issues created. In every community she is part of she consistently demonstrates care for quality and features, as well as the end user and contributor experiences—as demonstrated by her many blog posts, conference talks—and willingness to answer questions on IRC or Twitter in an engaging and caring way. She advocates for inclusivity in open source and organizes meetups for women through Women Who Go. At her first meetup, participants made contributions to large projects like Node.js that were accepted. She also gives talks on topics like container technology, getting started with Linux, contributing to software communities as part of your job, the art of closing issues and pull requests, and more. She also started a conference for open source maintainers called

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Jessie plans to continue contributing to Kubernetes as she pursues her desire to make containers more secure. She will also work to get more people involved in open source, and will educate open source software users and contributors around the world through her writing and speaking opportunities.

  • Karen Sandler

    Karen Sandler
    Executive director, Software Freedom Conservancy
    Open source contributor for 11 years

    Projects or communities:
    Software Freedom Conservancy, GNOME, Outreachy

    Summary of contributions:
    When a heart condition required her to get a medical implant that ran on proprietary software, Karen Sandler realized that the only way we can realistically expect critical technologies—like pacemakers and cars—to be safe is by ensuring the software is free and open. Karen is now a key leader and advocate for open source software with a focus on legal reform. As general counsel at the Software Freedom Law Center, she provided legal support to numerous free software projects. As an executive director of the GNOME Foundation, she passionately communicated the value of a free and open desktop. Today, she is the executive director at Software Freedom Conservancy (Conservancy), where she ensures that free and open source projects can have a great legal and administrative home. She works with companies out of GPL compliance to find non-litigious resolutions in accordance with the Principles of Community-Oriented GPL Enforcement, of which she is a primary author. She also helps maintain a comprehensive guide to copyleft at Karen has presented at many conferences on topics related to the complex legal and social issues facing free software, and examining the relationship between companies and free software communities. Leading a small group of lawyers, Karen launched ContractPatch, an initiative to educate free software contributors about employment agreements. She has also worked with government entities to increase the use of free software in public agencies. In 2012, Karen helped expand the Outreach Program for Women, now called Outreachy, to include dozens of free software organizations. In 2015, she helped move the program to the Conservancy and opened it up to people of color of all genders in the U.S. who are often underrepresented in open source communities and the tech industry.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Karen is planning to grow the Conservancy and help bring more stability to free and open source software. Another theme for the Conservancy this year will be increasing the organization’s commitment to transparency, openness, and diversity. She also wants to share how essential copyleft has been in the success of open source. She would like to bring more understanding around license compliance, and she wants to help empower free software contributors to more effectively influence the future of the free software ecosystem.

Academic Award

  • ​Aastha Vijay

    ​Aastha Vijay
    Cummins College of Engineering for Women, Pune, Maharashtra, India
    Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in electronics and telecommunication engineering
    Open source contributor for 2 years

    Projects or communities:

    Summary of contributions:
    As a manager for a freelance design firm, Aastha Vijay is passionate about marketing and branding and is an active contributor to Open Design, specifically contributing to localization in Hindi. She is working to get more technical and non-technical contributors involved in open source by incorporating open source into her talks on design, localization, building a brand, and how to develop a project or business idea. Aastha has mentored fellow students—including many women—in making their first open source contributions and becoming regular contributors. She considers herself to be a patron of open source, and constantly encourages others to participate in whatever way they can, regardless of background or skill set.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Along with a fellow Mozilla contributor, Aastha is working on a project called "connected communities," which is still in the development stage. This project, which grew from conversations among speakers at MiniDebConf 2016, will help demonstrate how contributors to different open source projects like Mozilla, Fedora, Python, etc., are all working toward the same mission of open source. Coming from an engineering background, Aastha is looking forward to participating in more projects that foster open innovation. She is also planning to promote diversity and inclusion in open source by helping more women get involved and become regular contributors.

  • Dawn Foster

    Dawn Foster
    University of Greenwich, PhD 2018
    Researching company collaboration within the Linux kernel community
    Open source contributor for 10 years

    Projects or communities:
    Tizen, MeeGo, Puppet, Metrics Grimoire

    Summary of contributions:
    Dawn is a long-time open source contributor in the areas of community advocacy and community management, system administration, open source methods, and open content. Her fascination with open source began at Intel, where she was asked to analyze various open source projects. She soon began blogging and presenting on the topic of how open source communities work. She then worked as the director of community and partner programs for a small, open source startup. As community manager and leader for projects like MeeGo, Puppet, and Tizen, Dawn was responsible for facilitation and management of community communication, as well as authoring and enforcing community guidelines and codes of conduct. She was often the person whom contributors consulted for escalating issues across the project and to find the right people to solve problems. Throughout her time in open source, she has worked on a variety of other tasks, including deploying new versions of community software, dealing with spam attacks, revising legal documents, writing documentation, contributing to governance discussions, authoring press releases, writing blog posts, and making podcasts. She is especially passionate about using data to measure and improve community participation. Recently, she presented on and advocated for using Gource and tools from Metrics Grimoire for open source project analysis. She often presents on various open source technologies and careers in open source.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Dawn is currently working on a Ph.D. at the University of Greenwich. She is studying how companies collaborate within the Linux kernel community using network analysis to look at how people work together. Her decades of experience in the technology industry offer a unique perspective on community research. She hopes to publish some of her work in a peer-reviewed journal before completing her Ph.D. As she uses the tools in the open source Metrics Grimoire project regularly for her research, she plans to get more involved in the project, and has already contributed through documentation and evangelism. To stay connected to the technology industry while in academia, Dawn is working part-time on community building and open source consulting for The Scale Factory.

  • Jigyasa Grover

    Jigyasa Grover
    Delhi Technological University (formerly known as Delhi College of Engineering)
    Pursuing a bachelor’s of technology in computer engineering
    Open source contributor for 3 years

    Projects or communities:
    Pharo, European Smalltalk Users Group (ESUG), FOSSASIA, JSONStreamer, Smalltalk Applications like MorphoPhysics, sQuick (Search Quick), Contact Manager, Desktop Games etc. Social Network Simulator - Hashkat (#k@), Women Who Code (WWCode), Google Developers Group (GDG), Google Women Techmakers (Google WTM), Women in Science & Engineering (WiSE), Linux Women in Open Source, Learn IT Girl!, Lean In, Lean In Women of Color, Systers Indian Women in Computing (IWiC)

    Summary of contributions:
    Early in her university days, Jigyasa Grover began working in competitive algorithmic C/C++ programming, Java, Android app development, HTML/CSS, PHP, Python, and more, which led her to explore open source. She began working on Pharo, an open source Smalltalk IDE, and eventually became one of the top contributors to Pharo 4.0 released in 2015. She was a participant in Google Summer of Code in 2015 and 2016, and has been awarded research opportunities by the National Research Council of Canada and the ESUG at Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) France. She has also been exploring the topics of machine learning and digital image processing. Her passion for helping women get involved in technology grew from her personal experience going from an all-girls high school to a university technology program with few women. She is working to inspire others by sharing her work and experiences through blogs, code sharing on GitHub, organizing code labs and tech talks, leading teams of women in major hackathons, speaking at conferences, and participating in mentorship programs. She is the director of Women Who Code Delhi, and she participates in GDG, Google WTM, WiSE, and Systers IWiC. She is a platform developer, organizer, and mentor for Learn IT, Girl!, and has conducted Android app development workshops for teenagers in Singapore. She has received major accolades for her work on numerous open source projects from organizations like the Linux Foundation, Anita Borg Institute, and more.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Jigyasa is planning to explore new open source technologies and continue her work with groups like Women Who Code. She is also excited to take on more mentoring opportunities through Code-Heat, Google Code-In, Learn IT, Girl!, and Outreachy, while organizing more code labs, programming bootcamps, and tech sessions. After she completes her bachelor’s degree, she is planning to pursue doctoral studies. Jigyasa’s life goal is to make significant and valuable contributions to the computing world through quality research work that will be used for social good.

  • Nabanita De

    Nabanita De
    University of Massachusetts, Amherst
    Pursuing a master’s in computer science
    Open source contributor for 2 years

    Project or communities:
    FiB, MIT Media Lab, Microsoft Student Partners, Windows Insiders, Mozilla Student Community, Stanford She++, Stanford Scholars Community, UMass CS Women, Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership, BITS Pilani Dubai, ACM Machine Learning Community, IEEE

    Summary of contributions:
    Nabanita De has contributed to numerous open source projects related to artificial intelligence, virtual reality, healthcare, and more. At the 24-hour HackPrinceton 2016, she and a team created an open source Chrome extension that detects fake news on Facebook. The project, called FiB, gained international media attention from major outlets like Business Insider, Washington Post, Mashable, and more. It won the Google Moonshot prize for most ambitious project, and has more than 650 stars on GitHub and 50,000 downloads in the Chrome store. She has also won the Mobile Virtual Reality experience award for her work at MIT’s Reality, Virtually Hackathon, The Best Upcoming Hackers award at MIT Media Lab, and an invitation to the Harvard VR Lab. She won the Hack for Healthcare startup hackathon at University of Washington for her treatment app prototype for patients suffering from bipolar disorder and depression. She has also mentored and judged many hackathons, including MIT’s premier hackathon, HackMIT. Nabanita is a Microsoft student partner at UMass.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Nabanita is planning to devote much of her time to solving the problem of fake news by continuing her work on FiB as her master’s thesis project. She hopes to channel the interest from the open source community in the project by including the project in open source programs like Google Summer of Code. She is also working on harnessing the power of open source to address humanitarian issues such as domestic violence, harassment, and acid attacks. Nabanita plans to mentor and organize more hackathons that promote open source and give people the confidence to contribute, including the Data Visualization Hackathon at UMass. When she completes her master’s program, she will join Microsoft, and she will continue her involvement in the open source community and work on challenging projects.

  • Safia Abdalla

    Safia Abdalla
    Northwestern University
    Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science
    Open source contributor for ~3 years

    Projects or communities:
    nteract, Project Jupyter, pandas, Node

    Summary of contributions:
    Safia Abdalla is an open source leader in the areas of data science, technical documentation, and community building. She is a major contributor to nteract, a desktop editor for Jupyter Notebooks. As one of the maintainers on the project, she regularly speaks at conferences, writes about the project, engages with users, and submits grant applications to help fund the project’s development. She also contributes to the project’s code and documentation. Driven by her belief that education opens doors, she is an outspoken proponent of making open source communities more inclusive of women and other underrepresented groups in tech. Her advocacy directly changed how issues are tagged on matplotlib, which resulted in new contributors having code merged. She has given technical talks at conferences like Node.JS Interactive, PLOTCON, and more, including a keynote at PyCon Canada. She is also the co-organizer of PyData Chicago, a community of data scientists and developers in Chicago who are passionate about open science and open source.

    What she hopes to accomplish in the next year and beyond:
    Safia is passionate about data science as a communication and storytelling tool. She is working on tooling that helps people work interactively with data, regardless of their background. Her vision is that nteract can be used as a tool for teaching and empowering students. She will continue to give talks at conferences focused on data science, software engineering, and machine learning. She’s also working to improve the retention of maintainers and contributors in open source and the sustainability of 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 full-time, earning 12 or more credit hours, in college or university, for any degree level
  • Women in Open Source Community Award: All other women

We encourage you to work with the nominee to complete the nomination form. This ensures that we get the full picture and accurate details about her contributions. If you find that your nominee is reluctant or unable to recognize her competence, here are some ways you can help her see the value in her accomplishments that are so clear to others.

Meet the judges

These open source leaders selected our finalists. Now it’s your turn to determine our winners.

  • Jim Whitehurst, president and CEO
  • DeLisa Alexander, executive vice president and chief people officer
  • Tim Burke, vice president, software engineering
  • Denise Dumas, vice president, software engineering
  • Christopher Wright, vice president and chief technologist
  • Deborah Bryant, senior director, open source and standards
  • Jason Hibbets, community manager of
  • Harish Pillay, senior community relations specialist
  • Stormy Peters, senior manager, community leads
  • Werner Gold, principal solutions offering manager
  • Diane Mueller, director, community development
  • Sarah Sharp, consultant at Otter Tech and 2015 Women in Open Source Community Award winner

We’ll announce the 2017 winners at Red Hat Summit in May.

2016 Award Winners

Congratulations Jessica McKellar and Preeti Murthy

Special thanks to everyone who helped spread the word, nominated women from their communities, and voted to determine the winners. Read more about Jessica and Preeti's inspiring contributions below.

Past winners

Learn more about the women who have achieved this notable award for open source contribution.

Our 2016 winners

The 2016 Women in Open Source Award winners and finalists are engineers, developers, community managers, mentors, entrepreneurs, educators, and pioneers. They're making an impact in areas ranging from CPU power management to diversity outreach in communities and open source education. Read on to learn how these inspiring women are changing the world.

2016 Community Award winner

Jessica McKellar

Jessica won the Women in Open Source Community Award for her efforts to create more inclusive environments in open source communities and the technology industry. Jessica’s introduction to open source in 2006 was a positive experience and she aspires to make open source communities more welcoming to new contributors, so that their first experiences are as good as hers.

As the diversity outreach chair for PyCon, the annual Python community event, Jessica reached out to her network of women in technology to increase the number of women speakers at PyCon from 1% in 2011 to 40% in 2016. Jessica won an O'Reilly Open Source Award for her diversity outreach work in the Python community in 2013. She also coordinated the participation of Twisted and Python in Outreachy, a program that helps underrepresented groups get involved in open source. Under her leadership, Dropbox increased representation of women in engineering. She is also a senior technical advisor for the HBO show Silicon Valley.

2016 Academic Award winner

Preeti Murthy

Preeti won the 2016 Women in Open Source Academic Award for her contributions to open source. As an undergraduate, Preeti was part of a team that introduced students to open source. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she worked for three years as a Linux kernel developer, where she contributed code, documentation, tutorials, open content, and other communications. Preeti has nearly 60 commits and reviews in the area of CPU power management. She also volunteered as a co-mentor for the Outreachy internship program. Preeti is pursuing a master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon, where she and her team are working on a programming toolchain for energy-harvesting systems that they hope to open source soon.

Meet our 2016 finalists

Community Award

Heidi Ellis
Professor of Computer Science and Information Technology at Western New England University
Valerie Aurora
Co-founder of the Ada Initiative and Linux kernel developer
Carrie Anne Philbin
Education pioneer at the Raspberry Pi Foundation
Julia Lawall
Senior research scientist at Inria

Academic Award

Ankita Shukla
Student at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)
Divya Upadhyay
Student at National Institute of Technology, Patna, India
Lynnette Ng
Student at National University of Singapore
Dawn Foster
Ph.D. candidate at the University of Greenwich

Meet our 2015 winners

The first class of Women in Open Source Award winners and finalists have contributed to projects ranging from open medical content and legal reform to code for many open source projects. Read on to learn how these inspiring women are changing the world.

2015 Community Award winner

Sarah Sharp

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.

2015 Academic Award winner

Kesha Shah

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.

Meet our 2015 finalists

Community Award

Shauna Gordon-McKeon
Program director at OpenHatch
Elizabeth K. Joseph
Systems engineer at HP
Deb Nicholson
Community outreach director at MediaGoblin
Karen Sandler
Executive director, Software Freedom Conservancy

Academic Award

Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad
Sophia D’Antoine
Student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Studying Computer Science and Computer System’s Engineering, bachelor’s and master’s degree
Emily Dunham
Oregon State University
Studying computer science
Netha Hussain
Government Medical College, Kozhikode, University of Calicut
Earning a bachelor of medicine and surgery

Thanks for voting. Check back in early May for the winners.

Download the complete 2017 rules [PDF] for the Women in Open Source Award.