It appears most open source projects are headed by men; this list on Wikipedia lists 29 men in charge of open source projects. Considering the famous contributions in the history of computer science and software engineering by people like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Margaret Hamilton, and countless others, that seems a little unlikely or disappointing. Are there any well-known open source projects where a woman is in charge?

  • I can certainly think of free-software projects headed by women whose project authority is widely recognised: Julia Lawall at Coccinelle comes quickly to mind. Given that it is possible (I say no more than that) that women tend to suffer less from the personality flaw that insists on formal coronation as BDFL, are you open to free-software projects helmed by women? Or are you specifically after ones who've insisted on the hat?
    – MadHatter
    Jan 9, 2018 at 9:20
  • 1
    @MadHatter I'm interested in both. Edited question to clarify.
    – gerrit
    Jan 9, 2018 at 9:45
  • Thanks. I think it's an interesting question, and hope it doesn't get closed.
    – MadHatter
    Jan 9, 2018 at 10:01
  • 1
    @Brandin Fair point. Edited, maybe clearer now.
    – gerrit
    Jan 9, 2018 at 11:06
  • 1
    @sambler Those are all valid questions but I chose to focus an a single question in a single post.
    – gerrit
    Jan 9, 2018 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


The Coccinelle project (see also on github) was started by Julia Lawall, and she's still one of the core developers. She's also considered authoritative on what it can and can't do; see eg this from LWN's coverage of the linux kernel community's response to the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities:

Some developers have suggested using Coccinelle, but Julia Lawall, the creator of Coccinelle, has concluded that the task is too complex for that tool.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.