The choice of a single great woman for this day was a really difficult decision. There are so many great women to adore and point out in open source and in other fields. And since Pia has just written her Ada Lovelace Day blog post about me, I half considered changing my mind.
My favorite women of past centuries are actually Marie Curie and Joan of Arc – one for her scientific achievements and the other for her courage. In current times I could have chosen Anuradha Suraparaju, together with me one of the few female software developers for open media software (leave me a comment if I missed you!!). I could also have chosen Stormy Peters who I adore for her work in Gnome, Mitchell Baker for her work in Mozilla, or Akkana Peck who is an awesome Firefox and Gimp developer. But weeks ago I had made up my mind to write about Pia, one of my best friends and an open source advocate with endless energy.
I can’t remember the day that I met Pia first, but I remember when she made the first impression on me. She came seemingly out of nowhere and decided to stand for president of Linux Australia. At the time, Linux Australia was a pretty useless organisation, having little more than a bank account through which the annual Linux.conf.au was organised. All of a sudden, with Pia spearheading Linux Australia, the organisation received a face, a goal and a purpose. I watched in amazement as LA became more and more representative of the *nix developers and enthousiasts in Australia, while AUUG took the opposite development.
And Pia also knew when to stop standing for LA – the moment that the organisation was threatened by just becoming “Pia’s organisation”, Pia decided to stand back and leave it to others to carry on her work. All they had to do was to stand on the back of a giant (well, almost).
Yes, I regard Pia as a giant – even if she’s actually really small in bodysize. 🙂 But we all know that short people can be very energetic. And Pia is one of the most energetic people that I know. She has a talent to express the opportunities and issues in open source with powerful words and has influenced many people to change their minds about open source. She has the energy to run her consultancy together with her husband Jeff, while at the same time being president of Software Freedom International which organises Software Freedom Day internationally, being active in many other groups, and particularly being a driving and coordinating force for OLPC work in Australia the region.
While driving open source and OLPC Pia has also a huge aim in getting more girls interested in technology, since she is enjoying it so much. She does many events at schools and has inspired many a girl to try out computing. Part of this is to expose great women in computing more such that they can work as role models to the younger generation. Her “Heroes” presentation is an awesome example for her efforts. Pia is my hero for the day. 🙂