ROSE Blog Interviews: FSF's Deborah Nicholson

Rikki Endsley

ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange

Aug 27, 2009 GMT
Rikki Kite

Q: Who are you?

A: Deborah Nicholson, Membership Coordinator for the Free Software Foundation.

Q: What do you currently do in free software? What do you love about it?

A: I manage our membership program, so my job is focused on outreach. I love meeting people and talking to them about the projects they're excited about. I'm also organizing our upcoming summit to address women's participation in free software and how to improve it.

Q: You're speaking to a group of women from other fields who are considering switching careers. Why should they consider moving into an free software-related career? What should they know about the free software environment to prepare them for the transition from a different field?

A: What's great about free software as a career is the people; knowledge is available in a peer-to-peer way. The free software community is very distributed so there are lots of niches and multiple "right" answers to most questions. There may be friendly competition, but most of the time I feel like we're all on the same team.

Q: You're speaking to a group of high school students (male and female). Why should they consider exploring career options in free software?

A: If you only learn proprietary software, then you're locked in to supporting companies that don't value your freedom or anyone else's. Freedom is one of those things that you'll definitely miss when it's gone – ask anyone who's lived in Burma or blogged in China or spent time in prison. Learn free software and you'll be part of a movement and a professional community that cares what kind of world we all live in.

Q: What question do you wish I'd asked? And how would you answer it?

A: How can I get involved in the discussion about women in free software?
Sign up for the Free Software Supporter and follow the group !womeninfreesoftware on – we'll be posting news in both places.



If you are a woman in open source, I'd love it if you'd take a moment to answer these interview questions and send your responses to me at rkite AT linuxpromagazine DOT com. (Otherwise, I'll try to track you down at an event or online!) If you'd like me to interview a particular woman in open source, drop me a line and let me know who she is and where to find her.


Additional reading:


Interview with Carla Schroder


Interview with Kelaine Vargas


Interview with Moose (Ohio LinuxFest)


Interview with the GNOME Foundation's Stormy Peters


Interview with Beth Lynn Eicher (Ohio LinuxFest)


Interview with Erica Brescia, CEO of BitRock


Interview with Linux Foundation's Angela Brown


Interview with Dru Lavigne


Interview with GSoC participant Kanika Vats


Interview with FSF's Deborah Nicholson

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