Inspiring Women Leaders

The Opensource Women’s Leadership event on January 28th was a real treat. Many thanks to our hosts She’s Geeky and the Bohemian Loft. Our sponsors, Pivotal Labs, Engine Yard, TrueCar, Enphase Energy, Balsamiq, Harvest, and Captain Recruiter provided dinner and drinks for our honorees and guests.  Additional ticket sales raised over $500 for the Open Workshop Project.

Many of the women honored at the event came up to me and said that they didn’t do much.  I replied that it is amazing how so many people doing “not much” can add up to something that effects such a big change in our community.  Every workshop has been a “one-off” — one group of individuals who get together for one weekend to make a difference for one group of people.  It’s a powerful thing.  Until now, that has served as its own reward.  However, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge something bigger that is happening.  Two years ago I knew of zero women Ruby engineers, after my first Ruby meetup, I knew one female Rubyist, Sarah Mei.  Now, I know over 30 women Rubyists in San Francisco alone.  That may still be a small number, but these women have made a large impact on the whole community and on me personally.  I no longer feel compelled to count the women in the room when I walk in.  I no longer feel that I am speaking for my gender when I voice my opinion. The difference is profound.

We closed the evening with a panel discussion of workshop organizers: Liana Leahy, Desi Mcadam, Sarah Mei and myself. Aihui Ong, fellow Rails engineer and a leader in our partner organization Women 2.0, moderated the panel. It was interesting to hear perspectives of fellow organizers and hear questions from the audience, which ranged from people who have been deeply involved in the workshops to others who had just heard about them.

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Nobel Prize Women in Science
Nobel Prize Women in Science
RailsBridge, with the help of our sponsorsors and the National Academies Press, provided each honoree with a copy of Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries. These are stories of the 50 women who have been awarded nobel prizes in Math and Science. Sarah Mei had the insight to add biographies of the two women who have received the Turing Award:

Fran Allen grew up on a farm in upstate New York and graduated from The New York State College for Teachers (now State University of New York at Albany) with a B.Sc. degree in mathematics in 1954.  She earned an M.Sc. degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1957 and began teaching school in Peru, New York. Deeply in debt, she joined IBM on July 15, 1957 and planned to stay only until her school loans were paid, but ended up staying for her entire 45-year career. Allen’s work has had an enormous impact on compiler research and practice. Both alone and in joint work with John Cocke, she introduced many of the abstractions, algorithms, and implementations that laid the groundwork for automatic program optimization technology. Allen’s 1966 paper, “Program Optimization,” laid the conceptual basis for systematic analysis and transformation of computer programs. This paper introduced the use of graph-theoretic structures to encode program content in order to automatically and efficiently derive relationships and identify opportunities for optimization. She published numerous papers in the 1970s on control flow analysis and optimization. Her compiler work at IBM established the feasibility and structure of modern machine- and language-independent optimizers. She received the Turing Award in 2006.

Barbara Liskov is currently the Ford Professor of Engineering in the MIT School of Engineering’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department and an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She earned her BA in mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1961. In 1968 she was one of the first women in the United States to be awarded a Ph.D. from a computer science department when she earned her degree from Stanford University. The topic of her thesis was a computer program to play chess end games. Liskov has led many significant projects, including the Venus operating system, the CLU and ARGUS programming languages. ARGUS was the first high-level language to support implementation of distributed programs and to demonstrate the technique of promise pipelining. Her current research focus is Byzantine fault tolerance and distributed computing. Her contributions have also been incorporated into the practice of programming: with Jeannette Wing, she developed a particular definition of subtyping, commonly known as the Liskov substitution principle.  She has influenced many of the most important systems used today for programming, specification, systems design, and distributed architectures. She received the Turing Award in 2008.

Please spread the word about our fabulous sponsors.  If you are looking for a job or know someone who is, Pivotal Labs, Engine Yard, TrueCar, Enphase Energy and Harvest are all hiring! and of course, Captain Recruiter can fill any position you have open.

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Inspiring Women Leaders