After my recent post picking out ten personalities in WordPress you should be following, I received several comments and emails asking why there were no women in the list.
There was no conscious reason why I didn’t include any women, but I would be the first to admit that it was poor form on my part. There are plenty of women in the world of WordPress who are worthy of mention. With that in mind, I set out to produce a followup to my “ten personalities” post and present to you below nine women in WordPress you should be following. Enjoy!
Sarah Gooding (@PollyPlummer)
Sarah was one of the first people I met in the WordPress community, let alone the first woman. We worked together at WPMU.org which was my first online writing gig.
At the time Sarah was proudly presented on the blog as an award winning writer, and with good reason. She has been writing about WordPress longer than many of us have been using it. Not only that, she is a partner at Untame, a boutique digital marketing firm specializing in open source content management systems and social networking architecture (to steal directly from her WPMU.org profile page ;-)).
Siobhan McKeown (@SiobhanPMcKeown)
Closely following on Sarah’s heels was Siobhan — another old team member of mine at WPMU.org. When I first started writing for the site I was in awe of the success of just one article that Siobhan had written: Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes. Incidentally, the message contained within that post is as important today as it ever was.
Helen Hou-Sandí (@HelenHouSandi)
Meet Helen Hou-Sandi, the very definition of multitasker. By day she works at WordPress implementation specialists 10up as the Director of User Interface Engineering, but her involvement in WordPress goes way deeper. She was involved in the recent 3.6 development cycle as a guest committer and feature lead for the post formats UI, and regularly helps out with Trac tickets. On top of that, she’s authored several plugins.
Unsurprisingly, Helen also keeps her own blog, where she recently confessed her love (and hate!) for the world’s favorite content management system:
I love WordPress. I develop using it for my job and for my own projects, I write (occasionally) using it, and I suggest it as a tool for content-based websites all the time. I also hate it. If I thought WordPress was perfect just the way it is, I wouldn’t work on core.
Outside of the community, Helen is a talented collaborative pianist, performing at many events in the New York area.
Jen Mylo (@JenMylo)
Jen Mylo is one of the most well-known women on the list, partly for her UX work at Automattic, but more recently for her taking on the role of encouraging more women and diversity in the WordPress community.
“When Matt convinced me to take the job at Automattic, one of the things that got me in was that he said I could work on programs to bring women and girls into the WordPress community, especially around programming”, says Mylo.
She launched a series of women-only workshops, but she doesn’t always believe positive discrimination is the way forward, as evidenced by comments on her blog about the new Doctor Who:
The negative, bitter backlash from diversity activists (and the non-activists who mostly just retweet things) when it was announced that Peter Capaldi — a 50-something British white dude — would be taking the role was pretty sucky. We are not entitled to determine the creative decisions of artists based on our own socio-political agendas. They’re artists for a reason… they have ideas they want to express.
Tammie Lister (@Karmatosed)
As time goes on, more people are experimenting with community plugins such as BuddyPress. Tammie Lister (yet another WPMU.org graduate) is known as a BuddyPress specialist, but in addition to custom design work, her company Logical Binary offers user experience consultations, vital for any online community to thrive.
Her mantra is “design for humans”, with a particular focus on providing logical pathways through websites. Her focus on the user experience makes Tammie a popular speaker at WordCamps, including the sold-out BuddyCamp in Miami.
“I’m a firm believer in do the things you love and it shows. I’m passionate about communites, content and users. I’m slightly obsessed with bringing a human touch back to websites and creating emotional and personal digital experiences. I don’t believe in one size fits all”, she says.
Earlier this year, she launched Buddy Design Labs, a blog exploring what can be done with the BuddyPress UI, such as a statistics dashboard and an activity stream timeline. You should bookmark it if you’re even the slightest bit interested in seeing what can be done with BuddyPress.
Lisa Sabin-Wilson (@LisaSabinWilson)
Wisconsin resident Lisa Sabin-Wilson is a poster girl for the freelance dream. She left her 10-year career as a Registered Nurse to launch a web design & development business. Eight years later she accepted a merger deal with WebDevStudios, where she is now co-owner and partner.
Along the way, Lisa was signed by Wiley Publishing to author the first edition of WordPress for Dummies, and another five editions after that. The book was a huge success and led her to write BuddyPress For Dummies, WordPress All In One For Dummies and WordPress Web Design For Dummies.
She knows her way around Multisite and spoke at WordCamp Las Vegas last year on the topic. It was a popular talk, particularly in the first 30 seconds. To find out why, check out the video on her blog.
Jessica Barnard (@ThePixelista)
Rocking the theme development world since 2008, Jessica is better known as The Pixelista, where she creates beautiful themes targeted at women.
“While I was in high school, I started my career working in the Graphics Department of a magazine publishing firm. With our society’s shift to digital media becoming more apparent to me every day, I decided to swap my printer ink in lieu of HTML, PHP and CSS (a few of the coding languages I’m fluent in!) and delve into the world of web design. I began designing websites professionally in 2008, and haven’t looked back since”, she says.
Jessica develops solely on the Genesis framework, allowing her to focus on design not code. She also has an entrepreneur’s eye, recently expanding her business by taking over the development and support of the popular themes from EightCrazy Designs.
Mika Ariela Epstein (@Ipstenu)
Better known as Ipstenu, Mika Ariela Epstein is the Half-Elf support rogue. She works for DreamHost as a WordPress support specialist, but like so many others involved in the community, her work goes way beyond her day job. She’s a regular problem-solver in the WordPress.org forums, and is a dab-hand at plugin development too.
Her special area of interest is Multisite, a topic on which she’s authored two eBooks.
Mika is a regular speaker at WordCamps. Last week she presented in Portland, where she combined her love of WordPress support with her obvious love of role-playing games in “Rolling Your WordPress Support Character”. You can see her slides here.
Suzette Franck (@suzette_franck)
Suzette works at web hosting specialists Media Temple, where she educates and advocates for WordPress. The line between her work time and free time is blurry however, as she attends an astonishing number of WordPress meet-ups and WordCamps.
Her most recent project is WordPress for Artists, a new meetup in Culver City aimed at artists, performers, and freelancers wanting to build their own website portfolio with WordPress. The event is free, and it’s a concept I can see catching on worldwide.
Her blog is a great place to check out everything she’s involved in, but also to get a feel for what the WordPress community is really about, with first-hand accounts from Suzette on the event she attends. Last but not least, she is also a regular guest on the WPWatercooler video podcast.
There’s no doubt that more women are getting involved in the WordPress, whether volunteering for the core project, helping solve support tickets, designing themes, or attending WordCamps, but is there still a gender bias in the community? Who else should be on this list? Let us know in the comments section below!