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20 influential women in DevOps

Susan D. Hall Writer, Freelance

DevOps is a hot topic, as organizations seek to streamline software delivery and speed time to market.

But, as in all categories of high tech, women in DevOps are in the minority. In general, women made up only 5 percent of the more than 20,000 respondents who participated in Puppet Labs' recent State of DevOps Report. A third of respondents reported working on teams with no women at all.

Women in high-tech roles face the threat of being invisible, though they make up about 13 percent of roles in systems administration and 27 percent in computer and information management, the report says.

Yet, software development and other tech jobs consistently rank among the best jobs—and the highest paying.

The DevOps Enterprise Summit, now under way in San Francisco, features a number of software engineers who happen to be women:

  • Ingrid Algra, IT chapter lead, ING
  • Em Campbell-Pretty, partner, Context Matters
  • Cornelia Davis, senior director, platform engineering, Pivotal
  • Dibbe Edwards, vice president of Rational software development, IBM
  • Kevina Finn-Braun, director of site reliability engineering, Salesforce
  • Heather Mickman, director of API and integration, Target
  • Cheryl Williams, technical manager, configuration management, Sony
  • Ramona Jackson, IT director, global infrastructure services, Cisco

Amplifying that list, here are 20 women in DevOps who are making their voices heard.

1. Terri Potts, technical director, Raytheon Software

From: Denver area

As Raytheon Software's Information, Intelligence, and Services Business Software Technical Director, Terri Potts tries to move the organization toward more modern techniques. She says it's a work in progress. Her talks about advocating for DevOps within a risk-averse organization like Raytheon bear titles such as "Leading the horse to water, and enticing him to drink" and "Melting the glacier: Introducing DevOps to a federal systems integrator."

She'll be speaking at DevOps Enterprise Summit 2015.

2. Dominica DeGrandis, director of training and coaching, LeanKit

From: Seattle area
Blog: ddegrandis.com
Twitter: @dominicad

Focused on visual process management systems, DeGrandis teaches Kanban to integrate the flow of work from dev to IT operations. She works to provide visibility and transparency across teams and to bring alignment to the entire organization.

She often appears at events focused on Lean, Kanban, agile, and DevOps, and recently spoke at LeanUX 2015 in April, Agile2015 in August, and DevOps Enterprise Summit 2014.

3. Bridget Kromhout, principal technologist for Cloud Foundry at Pivotal

From: Minneapolis, MN
Blog: bridgetkromhout.com
Twitter: @bridgetkromhout
Podcast: Arrested DevOps

A frequent speaker at tech conferences, Kromhout helps organize the AWS and DevOps meetups at home in Minneapolis. She serves on the program committee for Velocity and acts as a global core organizer for DevOps Days.

Kromhout joined Pivotal in August. At the Velocity conference in New York in October, she presented "Scaling next-generation internet TV on AWS with Docker, Packer, and Chef," along with Peter Shannon of her former employer DramaFever.

4. Jennifer Davis, software engineer, Chef Software

From: Santa Clara, CA
Twitter: @sigje
Davis recently became senior systems engineer at Chef and was previously an automation consulting engineer helping companies automate the building, testing, and deployment of software. Earlier she was the team lead for Yahoo's Sherpa cloud storage service engineering team and was president and director for BayLISA, a large installation system administration group.

She spoke at the September DevOpsDays Boston conference and her SeaGL talk in October will be "Magic Myth and the DevOps." She's also an organizer for DevOpsDays Silicon Valley, to be held in November.

5. Leslie Carr, DevOps engineer at Cumulus Networks

From: San Francisco, CA
Twitter: @lesliegeek

Carr started out in tech support and moved up through the ranks of network engineering at Craigslist and Google. At the Wikimedia Foundation, she started playing with automation tools and realized the networking work was missing out on some awesome tools. She made it her goal to never have to type on the command line of a router again.

Earlier this year, she spoke at SCALE 13x in Los Angeles on using the switch as a server via Puppet and Ansible. She presented "Why NetDevOps? How?" at PuppetConf in October.

6. Egle Sigler, principal architect of private cloud solutions at Rackspace

From: San Antonio, TX

Sigler started at Rackspace as a junior programmer and later moved to a DevOps architect position before advancing to her current role.

As a member of the OpenStack Foundation Board, Egle is co-chair of the DefCore committee, which defines the core features required for interoperability. Egle served two years on the governing board of POWER (Professional Organization of Women Empowered by Rackspace), an internal organization for female engineers.

She is a co-author of DevOps for VMware Administrators and the third edition of OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook.

7. Nicole Forsgren, director of organizational performance and analytics, Chef Software

From: Seattle, WA

Twitter: @nicolefv

Formerly a professor at Utah State University, Forsgren joined Chef earlier this year to help with the company's goal to become more metrics-driven in its engineering organization.

Frosgren, who holds a PhD in management information systems, brings science to the study of DevOps, including her experience as lead investigator in the 2014 and 2015 State of DevOps Report.

Frosgren chaired the 2014 USENIX LISA conference.

8. Liz Keogh, independent Lean and agile consultant

From: London
Blog: lizkeogh.com
Twitter: @lunivore

Keogh is a well-known blogger and speaker, a core member of the behavior-driven development (BDD) community, and a contributor to open-source projects, including JBehave.

With almost 15 years' experience in delivering and coaching others to deliver large-scale enterprise applications, Keogh focuses on psychology, natural language processing, and adult learning in achieving organizational transformations.

9. Lori MacVettie, principal technical evangelist at F5 Networks

From: Seattle, WA
Twitter: @lmacvittie

MacVittie's evangelism role for application services for F5 involves writing technical materials as well as being part of community forums and standards organizations. She's focused on cloud computing, infrastructure, data center architecture, and security.

Previously she was senior technology editor for Network Computing magazine. She writes for DevOps.com and is the author of Web Application Security is a Stack - How to CYA (cover your apps) completely.

MacVittie is a member of the steering committee for CloudNOW, a nonprofit consortium of the leading women in cloud computing, as well as a board member for the DevOps Institute.

10. Katherine Daniels, senior operations engineer at Etsy

From: New York City

Blog: beero.ps

Twitter: @beerops

At Etsy, Daniels focuses on solving problems with configuration management, automation, and monitoring at scale. Before working in operations, she spent several years doing systems engineering and R&D. She has spoken at conferences including Monitorama, DevOpsDays, and Velocity.

Daniels was co-organizer of DevOpDays NYC 2015 and is co-host of the podcast The Ship Show. Along with Jennifer Davis of Chef, Daniels is writing O'Reilly's "Effective DevOps." She spoke on DevOps at Velocity New York and Velocity Amsterdam, both in October.

11. Helen Beal, DevOps director at Ranger4

From: London
Twitter: @HelenRanger4

At Ranger4, a British DevOps transformation and tooling specialist firm working with clients across a variety of industries, Beal focuses on how organizations can embrace DevOps philosophies to influence their IT culture and behaviors and implement tools for change.

Beal has become a well-known DevOps enthusiast and evangelist for Ranger4 in the UK and beyond. She speaks at industry conferences and has developed several DevOps workshops and events.

She writes at DevOps.com and has published four novels.

12. Julie Tsai, director of engineering, information security at Walmart Global eCommerce

From: San Francisco, CA

Twitter: @446688

Tsai has been involved in a broad effort at Walmart to increase security awareness among development teams. She spoke about how DevOps empowers agile security and compliance at DevOps Connect in April.

13. Sherry Chang, chief architect of DevOps and continuous delivery, Intel

From: Sacramento, CA

At Intel, Chang has fostered DevOps practices across a community of more than 1,000 engineers through coaching and leading DevOps implementations. Her professional interests include test-driven development, continuous delivery, and infrastructure as code. Chang is a certified Scrum Master and holds eight software patents.

She will speak on evolving team structure in DevOps on November at FUSION 15 in New Orleans.

14. Charity Majors, production engineering manager at Parse/Facebook

From: San Francisco, CA

Twitter: @mipsytipsy

Majors was infrastructure tech lead at Parse, the back-end system for mobile apps, when Facebook bought it in 2013. The Parse team at Facebook is responsible for the performance, reliability, scalability, and database operations for more than 500,000 mobile apps.

She spoke on bootstrapping a world-class Ops team at the Velocity conference in May in Santa Clara, California, and in September of this year gave three talks at Percona Live Europe in Amsterdam. Majors is co-author of O'Reilly Media's Databases at Scale.

15. Alison Gianotto, co-founder and CTO of Mass Mosaic, founder and CEO Grokability

From: San Diego, CA
Twitter: @snipeyhead

Most recently founding two startups, Gianotto, better known as Snipe, is a prolific writer and tweeter on InfoSec and DevOps issues. (Check out her frank admission about the NSFW nature of her tweets.) She's listed on a whole array of "top tech leaders/entrepreneurs/geeks to follow" lists.

She maintains a DevOps section on her popular blog and is sought out as speaker at tech events internationally. She also runs a funny Tumblr for devops/infosec/developer types.

16. Elisabeth Hendrickson, VP engineering, big data at Pivotal

From: San Francisco, CA

Blog: Test Obsessed

Twitter: @testobsessed

Hendrickson focuses on helping individuals and organizations discover how testing can increase their agility by providing fast feedback and increasing visibility. She founded Quality Tree Software, a consulting and training company in 1997 and closed it in 2012 when she moved to Pivotal, where she worked on Cloud Foundry as the director of quality engineering. Earlier this year, she took the engineering VP role for Pivotal's big data suite.

Her professional interests include test automation, exploratory testing, and agile development. She's the author of Explore It: Reduce Risk and Increase Confidence with Exploratory Testing.

17. Rosalind Radcliffe, distinguished engineer, chief architect for DevOps for z Systems, IBM

From: Raleigh-Durham, NC area

Twitter: @RosalindRad

Rosalind Radcliffe is responsible for driving DevOps for multiplatform architecture, including z System and Power system, as well as the collaborative management capability for enterprise solutions.

In a DevOps.com interview, Radcliffe said DevOps is just the "Agile principle taken to the full enterprise" to streamline processes and accelerate delivery, and in a few years it will probably even bear a different name.

She's also the author of Mobile to Mainframe DevOps for Dummies.

18. Erica Morrison, senior manager, software development at CSG International

From: Omaha, NE

At CSG International, a provider of business support systems software, Morrison leads three agile teams that includes developers, architects, testers, DBAs, and an operational engineer. She previously held software engineering roles at Union Pacific Railroad, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.

At the recent Heartland Developer Conference, she and CSG's Jeremy VanHaren spoke about how CSG is using existing infrastructure and its continuous integration framework to incorporate continuous delivery concepts.

She'll be among the speakers at DevOps Enterprise Summit in October.

19. Paula Thrasher, application delivery lead, CSC

From: Washington, D.C. area

Twitter @paula_thrasher

At CSC, Thrasher helps lead federal government agencies and teams towards agile and DevOps. Her first agile project was in 2001, and she has since led more than 15 programs and projects as an agile developer, technical lead, scrum master, or agile coach.

She spoke about bringing a new software delivery approach in the face of classic government bureaucracy in DevOps Caf? podcast in May. Her DevOps Enterprise Summit talk will be "10 Ways to DevOps Fail (And Three Keys to Success)."

20. Courtney Kissler, vice president of e-commerce and store technologies, Nordstrom

From: Seattle, WA

Twitter: @ladyhock

At retailer Nordstrom, Kissler leads the technology teams—500 people in all—accountable for e-commerce, customer mobile, personalization, loyalty, and store technology.

Kissler told an Interop Las Vegas audience last spring that by mapping every single step in delivering a new version of the retailer's mobile app, Nordstrom cut the process from 28 weeks to a month.

It's part of a continuous improvement initiative highlighted in O'Reilly's "DevOps in Practice." Kissler spoke about the cultural changes required to implement DevOps at DevOps Enterprise Summit 2014. She'll be speaking at the conference again this year, as well as DevOpsDays Ohio in November.

Do you know of any outstanding women in DevOps to add to the list?

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