Ada Lovelace Day 2014 – Maia Sauren

As I chose who to write about for this year’s Ada Lovelace Day blog post, it occurred to me that this was becoming a harder task year after year – as I have the privilege of getting to know more and more amazing women in science and technology – and this is a Good Thing.

That said, Maia stands out for a number of reasons. I first met Maia in 2013 while doing Agile training; the university I work for was adopting agile practices and I needed to skill up. The training was inspirational – we looked at our texts and then put them aside as the entire training course was run as a sprint! She taught me to think differently, to challenge assumptions, and to ensure that data was driving decision making – all prerequisites for good agile practice.

I’ve also come to be inspired by other activities Maia seeds and nurtures; the Open Knowledge Foundation‘s Health Hacks, GovHack, and many other side projects that seek to further understanding and provide value. She’s also a knitter, and that gets bonus points 🙂

Maia is @sauramaia on Twitter

Ada Lovelace Day – Sae Ra Germaine

Once again it is time to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, which recognises the achievements and talent of women in science, engineering, technology and mathematics fields. This year I’d like to dedicate my post to a colleague, friend and someone I admire greatly – Sae Ra Germaine.

I had the fortune to meet Sae Ra during the lead up to in 2011, and was immediately struck by her positivity, warm and endearing personality and stellar graphical design skills.

Her strengths embody many of the qualities that women bring to the table – and which are sorely lacking in information technology such as;

  • The ability to develop strong working relationships with people from different backgrounds, and with differing technical competencies. Sae Ra was the glue which held our team together – diplomatically resolving conflict, understanding peoples’ unspoken needs – and ensuring they were met – and generally acting as a nurturing influence on our group.
  • Design acumen and keen sense of visual appeal – which helped us to deliver one of the most attractive sets of conference paraphernalia that I’ve seen in recent history
  • The knack for sensing tension or conflict before it becomes marked and apparent, and working quietly behind the scenes to resolve the conflict or find a workable solution
  • An awareness of ‘human’ needs within a project – such as the information requirements that people might have, and what emotions should be catered for during an event such as a conference

Sae Ra is truly an asset to women in computing and multimedia.

Ada Lovelace Day – Donna Benjamin

Ada Lovelace Day has come around again, and although Donna Benjamin was profiled in brief for last year’s post, this year I’d like to dedicate several more virtual column-inches to covering her achievements and notability as an inspirational woman of technology.

Service as a mentor, guide and trusted friend in producing open source events

For many years, Donna was instrumental in making the Software Freedom Day celebrations in Melbourne happen. Countless hours of unpaid time were devoted to organising, herding, negotiating, liaising, encouraging and motivating the diverse group of open source enthusiasts around Melbourne and Victoria to come together. This culminated in 2010 in Melbourne’s Software Freedom Day event being recognised as one of the best in the world. While a strong leader in her own right, Donna went one step further. Through actively mentoring others, she has nurtured nascent talent in the community, ensuring that similar events in the future are more sustainable, and draw from an emerging field of willing and capable minds.

This is no more apparent than in her role as ‘ghost’ to the current organising team (Disclaimer: of which I’m a member). Her insight, knowledge, reflections and practical demeanour, built from the success that was 2008 have put the team on a very strong footing indeed to be able to deliver January’s event. Her passion, energy and dedication are also echoed in Drupal Downunder coming to Melbourne in 2012.

Donna is also a respected speaker and conference presenter, spreading her passion for open source, open knowledge, open education and open culture.

Digitise the Dawn

Donna’s trumpeting achievement in the last year or so however lies in her successful spearheading of the Digitise the Dawn campaign. In a matter of weeks, Donna’s efforts had raised over $AUD8000 – enough to have the archives of Louisa Lawson’s ‘The Dawn’ newspaper digitised in Trove and made available for researchers – a significant step for women everywhere.


It is Donna’s drive, passion, enthusiasm, willingness to give of herself and ability to genuinely nurture others that make me respect and admire her so much. Thank you, Donna.