This is a cross-post of a post I wrote for the Ada Initiative blog about what open source software and Linux in particular has given me.
Like many of you, open source software gave me a good job as a software engineer – for over 10 years now for me. My job as a Linux kernel developer let me do something good for the world – and make a lot of money doing it. My open source career let me help my family, do fun things like see erupting volcanoes in Hawaii, and donate to causes I care about, like women’s rights and protection of free speech. Open source software gave me amazing opportunities and a great salary to go with it.
That’s why I donated so much of my time and money to help other women have the same chance at a career in open source software that I did. I first started donating my time in 2001 by volunteering for LinuxChix. Today, the Ada Initiative‘s work is so important to me that I donated $5,000 in cash and worked for free for 8 months to get it off the ground – more than $80,000 at senior open source software programmer rates.
Those of us who are in open source software today got lucky: We started programming at the right time, had access to computers, and got community support. But lots of other people – especially women – didn’t have these opportunities. That’s why women make up only 2% of the open source community (as opposed to 20% or more in computing overall). The open source community believes in fairness and social justice, and we should all be working to give women a fair chance at the same jobs we love.
If open source software gave you a career, a house, or a college fund for your children, please consider giving back to help women have the same chance at a career like yours. Is it worth 1% of your annual salary to know that your daughters, nieces, and other young women will have the same chance at an open source career like yours?
A reminder about employer donation matching: Many employers will match employee donations to non-profits like the Ada Initiative, including Google, Microsoft, Red Hat, Apple, and many smaller companies as well. Check with your manager or search your internal company web site to find out if you can double your money.