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working with the web

Ada Lovelace Day: My Local Heroines

So the day has finally come for my Ada Lovelace Day post, and although I’ve been thinking about who I will write about for over a month now, I’m still no closer to making a decision. So, I decided to stop fighting it and write about all of the Australian women in IT who inspire me.

These are not the people who get accolades (well, not all of them). But they each possess qualities that I admire and so this post is a little thank you to them for being wonderful.

First up is Sonja Bernhardt. She’s somewhat well known as a spokesperson for the issues facing women in IT and unlike the other women I’m going to talk about, she does get accolades, and they are well-deserved. I admire Sonja for looking at the gender problem and actually doing something about it. Not of all of her ideas succeed, but she has the drive to keep trying different things regardless and she deserves recognition for that.

Second of all I’d like to call out someone near and dear to me: Helen Burgess. Helen is a lecturer at Central TAFE and faces a daily uphill battle to get web development best practices taught to students, in line with industry requirements and expectations. As I write “a daily uphill battle” I can’t help but imagine her battling through a computer-game like world, blasting away at budgetary restraints, stuffy traditionalist teachers and restrictive guidelines as she goes to get her morning coffee. I’m sure it’s less dramatic than that. Helen sits on the Australian Web Industry Association committee (as do I), and is also the Judging Chairperson for the WA Web Awards – so she’s keeping us all honest.

My next local heroine is the fabulous Harriet Wakelam. Harriet works with all kinds of educational technology. I admire Harriet not only for what she achieves, but for her passion for educating which can’t help but come through when you speak to her. Harriet is also on the AWIA committee and when I first met her (at a Port80 networking event at the pub) I was impressed by her ability to juggle a young family and a technology career and still have time for the occasional beer at the pub with some colleagues. She’s a superwoman for sure.

Next I’d like to welcome to my imaginary stage Maxine Sherrin. Maxine is one of the organisers of Web Directions, the web tech conference that has basically become a full time endeavour for her over the past few years and has inspired all kinds of other events, including but not limited to our own Edge of the Web conference in Perth. Maxine is unbelievably cool, and she makes stuff happen. Also she gets to hang out with cool people. In fact, when I grow up, I totally want to be Maxine.

As I write this I realise there’s more and more people I could write about, but I’m going to limit myself to one more: Cheryl Gledhill. Chezza and I share some common ground in that we both decided to start our own businesses in the web development sphere with our partners. I look at the way Molt:n have approached their business and have picked up some things that I think we could be doing better (and I wear my Molt:n “I like code” tshirt with pride). I also love Cheryl’s attitude, which comes through in her blog posts and tweets – this girl does not take shit from anyone.

So there you have – just a few of the Australian women in IT that I admire.