The lack of women in the computer science field is not a new development. In fact, only 30 percent of the 707 students studying computer science at Stanford University are female. But the tide may be turning as women are beginning to make their presence known in the open source world.

Case in point, the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women conference on October 14, 2015 was hosted by Carol Willing, the director of the Python Software Foundation. The highlight of the event was the Open Source Day Code-a-thon. Those who attended were able to make their very first contribution to an open source project, with help and guidance from Willing. The project was hosted by OpenHatch, a not-for-profit organization that provides education and Web-based learning tools for open source coding. The project included a system to help organize volunteers and teach them about open source tools and how to contribute to future projects.

Another example of women entering the computer science field is Patricia Torvalds, the 18-year-old daughter of famed Linux founder Linus Torvalds. As a student at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, she most recently finished up an internship at Puppet Labs—an IT automation software developer—in Portland, Oregon. Despite her father’s strong background in computer science, it was Torvalds’ high school that helped lay the foundation for her future growth in the field. She started with a Web design internship her sophomore year in high school, then took an engineering class and, ultimately, taught a class with a fellow classmate called “Exploratory Ventures.”

Now, Torvalds is out of high school and on to college, but her focus remains with computer science. The younger Torvalds believes that women and other diverse groups of developers need a safe space to interact, as she said in an interview with She admits to having heard misogynistic and racist comments in open source forums. To attract a more diverse group of developers, Patricia has spoken out about how she feels open source communities should be held to a higher standard.

While there are still barriers for women and other diverse groups within the computer science realm, the essence at the core of the open source community is collaboration. And with women like Torvalds and Willing embracing software development, the door is open wider to women and other underrepresented groups—further ensuring that open source is truly open to all.