Ones to watch: Influential women in open source

These women are a force in open source

The woman force in open source

Don't let the technology gender gap fool you; there are many outstanding women in open source. Some founded companies, some are leading major projects and many are among the most interesting and influential figures in the open source world.

Here, in alphabetical order, are the ones to watch.

Note: This list was last updated on 6/17/16. If you know someone who should be on it, let us know.

Mitchell Baker

Mitchell Baker was instrumental in the creation of the Mozilla Foundation, the organization that oversees the development of the Firefox browser and other products. When the Mozilla Corporation was founded, Baker was named CEO. Today, she is Chairwoman of both the Mozilla Foundation and Mozilla Corp. In 2005, Time magazine listed Baker among the 100 most influential people in the world. She is affectionately called Chief Lizard Wrangler at the Mozilla Corp.

Jennifer Cloer

Jennifer Cloer is vice president of communications at The Linux Foundation. Prior to joining the Linux Foundation, Cloer was involved with the launch of many free and open source organizations, including Software Freedom Law Center and Open Solutions Alliance. She also led public relations programs for Creative Commons and Google.

Lauren Cooney

Lauren Cooney is senior director of open source strategy & STEM at Cisco Systems. Prior to Cisco she worked at IBM and BEA Systems driving open source technologies. She also worked at Microsoft during the time when Sam Ramji was bringing a major change at the company as a director of open source operations.

Danese Cooper

Danese Cooper currently serves as chairperson of the Node.js Foundation. She is also works in an open source role at PayPal. Previously she was Director of the Open Source Hardware Association and CTO of the Wikimedia Foundation. She had brief stint at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as a consulting open source strategist. She has been involved with open source since 1999.

Rikki Endsley

Rikki Endsley is one of the faces that you will see at almost all open source conferences. Endsley is a community manager and editor of, a Red Hat funded website. Prior to heading, Endsley worked as a community evangelist on Red Hat’s Open Source & Standards team.

Limor Fried

Limor Fried is the founder and owner of one of the most recognized open source hardware companies, AdaFruit. Fried earned a BS in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and a Master of Engineering in EECS from MIT. She conceptualized AdaFruit from her MIT dorm room. Fried was the first female engineer to appear on the cover of Wired magazine.

Cathy Malmrose

Cathy Malmrose co-founded ZaReason Inc., one of the few companies that sell Linux laptops, desktops and servers. Before founding ZaReason, she set up the non-profit organization to support the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project. In fact, it was the work she did at Partimus that encouraged her to start ZaReason.

Anne Nicolas

Anne Nicolas founded Megia, a Linux-based operating system that was created after the downfall of Mandriva, a company that developed a Linux distribution by the same name, and where Nicolas worked as a release manager from 2007-2010. In 2011, Nicolas founded hupstream, a company that helps enterprise customers in using open source technologies. In the same year she also founded the Kernel Recipes conference.

Stormy Peters

Stormy Peters serves as the vice president of tech evangelism at Cloud Foundry. Prior to that she was director of the Mozilla Developer Network and also led the Gnome Foundation as executive director. She is also the founder and vice president of the nonprofit Kids on Computers project.

Lydia Pintscher

Lydia Pintscher is the current president of KDE e.v., the body that oversees the legal and financial aspects KDE. Pintscher has been associated with KDE since 2006 when she started doing marketing and then community and release management for the free and open-source music player Amarok. Pintscher also does product management for Wikidata at Wikimedia Germany.

Emily Ratliff

Emily Ratliff is senior director of infrastructure security at The Linux Foundation. In this role, oversees CII, a project managed by The Linux Foundation that enables technology companies, industry stakeholders and esteemed developers to collaboratively identify, fund and improve the security of critical open source projects.  She also advises Linux Foundation projects on security best practices and issues.

Nithya Ruff

Nithya Ruff is currently director of the open source strategy office at SanDisk. Ruff also chairs the SanDisk Open Source Working Group. From 2009-2012, Ruff was senior director of product marketing for Linux and open source at Intel.

Sarah Sharp

Sarah Sharp is a developer who has contributed heavily to the Linux kernel, making it the first OS to support USB 3.0. Sharp currently works at the Open Source Technology Center at Intel where she is a Linux 3D graphics developer. Sharp is known for her efforts to increase gender, racial, cultural and economic diversity in the open source world. She is also the winner of the first Red Hat Women in Open Source Award.

Karen Sandler

Karen Sandler is currently the executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy. Prior to that she was executive director of the GNOME Foundation and she also worked as general counsel of the Software Freedom Law Center. Sandler is among the leading proponents of open source.

Jane Silber

Jane Silber joined Canonical back in 2004 when the project was founded and focused primarily on enterprise. She also led the Ubuntu One project. In 2010, when Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth stepped down from the position of CEO, Silber took the helm.

Hannah Wolfe

Hannah Wolfe is a software developer who co-founded The Ghost Foundation, which oversees development of the free and open source blogging platform Ghost.

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph
Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph is an automation and tools engineer at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and works on the OpenStack infrastructure team. She serves on the board of directors for, a non-profit (founded by Cathy Malmrose) that provides Linux-based computers to San Francisco Bay Area schools and low-income housing centers. She is also the project lead of the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter and is one of the elected leaders of Ubuntu California. Previously, Joseph served on the Ubuntu Community Council, the community governance body for Ubuntu.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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