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Red Hat celebrates ‘women of open source’ at RHS 2018

Red Hat has announced the winners of its ‘Women in Open source’ awards at the company’s annual ‘Summit’ event, currently taking place in San Francisco.

Dana Lewis, founder of the Open Artificial Pancreas System (OpenAPS) movement, and Zui Dighe, a Duke University student, were both formally honoured for their use of open source technologies.

Red Hat says the awards are given out annually to women who demonstrate an innovative use of open source methodology, or those who make valuable contributions to open source communities.  

The two women were presented with the awards on day 2 of the event, as part of a focus on Women in technology and the gender representation disparity within the tech ecosystem.

Red Hat says it's crucial that more women are involved and employed within the tech space, as it leads to more productive communities and organisations.

Nominations for this year's awards were accepted for two categories being academic (those currently enrolled in a college or university) and community (those working or volunteering on projects related to open source).

Finalists were determined based on nomination criteria, with public voting to determine the winners.

Red Hat executive vice president and chief people officer DeLisa Alexander says, “Congratulations to Dana and Zui on being recognised as 2018 Women in Open Source Award winners. Their contributions are fantastic examples of how open source is being used to make a difference in people’s lives.

“We're passionate about promoting the sizable impact that women are making in open source and I am inspired not only by their work, but by their efforts as mentors and advocates for others.”

Lewis, who was recognised in the community category, is the founder of the OpenAPS movement and creator of the DIY Artificial Pancreas System.

OpenAPS is an open and transparent effort aimed at making safe and effective basic Artificial Pancreas System (APS) technology available to help improve and save lives and reduce the burden of Type 1 diabetes.

An open source contributor for four years, Lewis started her work after becoming frustrated by her diabetes devices.

She could not access her blood glucose data in real time and the continuous glucose monitor designed to alert her when her blood sugar dropped was not loud enough to wake her up at night - putting her life at risk.

The louder alarm system she created evolved less than a year later into the open source artificial pancreas system.

In the past few years, the OpenAPS community has grown worldwide, with more than 600 people now using various systems based off of her work and original system designs.

On her award win, Lewis says, “I’m honoured to be part of the group of amazing women who were nominated for the Red Hat Women in Open Source Award, and appreciate everyone who learned about all the finalists’ commitment to open source.

“It would be easy to focus on simple metrics such as traditional commit-based counts for evaluating open source contributions, but open source includes so much more. Recognising that fact often means more easily and fully recognising the contributions of all of the diverse participants in an open source community.”

Zui Dighe was the second award winner, recognised in the academic category.

Dighe is a student at Duke University, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and computer science and has been an open source contributor for two and a half years.

She is a primary collaborator on an open source system that tracks vaccine temperatures and GPS locations as they enter developing nations using an Arduino-based device.

She was named a Katsouleas NAE Grand Challenge Scholar for her work on vaccine carriers and is passionate about bridging the gap between medical innovation and need.

On campus, she was the chief technology officer of Campus Enterprises, a student-owned and operated business that connects Durham, N.C.-based businesses with the Duke community to offer online ordering, food and laundry delivery, screen printing, marketing, catering and technology services.

She also is the technology lead on a transcontinental team of Duke and Makerere University engineering students that branched off of an engineering course taken through both universities in 2016.  

Dighe says she is thrilled with the award and hopes that her story will inspire young girls to contribute and learn from open source

"It is so important to foster a sense of community for women and girls in underrepresented fields, and that is exactly the platform that open source can provide. I am inspired by the stories of the finalists for the Red Hat Women in Open Source Award and learning about the diverse projects that they have been working on,” Dighe says.

“Open source is much more than just code and final projects; it represents collaboration and the exchange of thought to build something with impact. As a student, it is through open source that I became a developer, and bringing this accessibility to underrepresented groups is something that I am passionate about.”

The second keynote of day two at Red Hat summit underlined the importance and benefits of having a diverse workforce, both for industry and communities.

It highlighted the efforts Red Hat is making in trying to close the gender representation gap, with initiatives such as teaching young girls how to code at free workshops in the US.

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