With great honor and pride I can announce that I have been shortlisted as CTO of the year 2019 of the Women in IT Awards Europe.
This is very important to me in several ways. First of course an award like this shows the recognition of the importance of women in IT in general and the category CTO in special shows that women are very deeply involved in leading the creation of IT technology. Areas where women are too often underrepresented and even marginalized. Women have been an important part in creating the very foundations of modern IT, naming Ada Lovelace as just one example (here and here are some more), and have ever since played an important role in IT and computer science. This award is pointing this out, which seems necessary to remind everyone, to create awareness and the recognition that women deserve in the IT industry.
Second I think it is great that with this nomination a young, innovative and still comparably small company gets recognized for its hard work, namely Purism, for which I work as the CTO. It should be encouraging for small businesses and start-ups that innovation and hard work gets recognized, even when you are still young and not a multi billion dollar company. Every path begins with a first step and regardless how small and insignificant it may feel, you can do great things and cause change! Participating in such a development in a leading role and receiving this recognition makes me tremendously proud and is very encouraging.
Third this award nomination also means to me that the importance of protecting the privacy and security of computer users has finally made it into the industry and mainstream. Since the beginning of this decade and latest by the advent of smart phones, exploiting user’s data has become one of the most important business models for a multi billion dollar industry. The fallout of this development that we have seen so far is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We must develop safe and privacy protecting solutions now so that users get a choice and a chance to escape this ever faster developing spiral of exploitation contraptions.
Finally this award nomination is also a recognition of free and open source software – the only software that I touch, work with and develop. For many years free software has been smiled at and not been taken seriously, because it is “not the industry standard”. In my early years I needed to evangelize people into using free software. Then it became a niche solution for certain problems (servers, embedded solutions) and today? Today it is the de-facto industry standard on servers, Linux is by far the widest spread operating system kernel and GNU/Linux has become a viable alternative on desktop and laptop PCs. At Purism we are now working hard on breaking down a final barrier – convergence. With the Librem 5, a mobile phone solely based on free software, we will be among the first to actually run the same operating system including graphical user interface (PureOS) on three different device classes: servers, desktops / Librem laptops and the Librem 5 phone. We are dedicated to the free software idea and ethics which is why our development motto is “Upstream first!”, we make all of our code public and work hard on pushing our changes upstream into the projects we base on. PureOS received the Free Software Foundation‘s endorsement and we expect the Librem 5 to be the first mobile phone to meet the “Respects Your Freedom” (RYF) criteria and pass the FSF RYF certification.
I greatly appreciate the nomination and want to thank the jury for considering me.