Is Open Source open to women? Three amazing women offer insight at SUSECON | SUSE Communities

Is Open Source open to women? Three amazing women offer insight at SUSECON


For the first time at SUSECON, women took center stage in our keynotes – and not just one, but THREE amazing, inspiring women from IBM, Intel and Fujitsu respectively.

It’s not that we’re not Open to women joining us on stage (of course we are, we’re the Open Open Source company) – it’s just that we haven’t had the opportunity before.

So, as a woman working for (in my humble opinion) one of the greatest Open Source companies, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask these fantastic ladies about their experiences and whether they’ve had any challenges rising to the top of their careers. I also talked to them about how their companies support and offer programs to promote more women in IT and why Open Source is actually a great place for women.

Up first, was Dr. Figen Ulgen of Intel. Figen is the GM of the High Performance Computing Platform Software & Cloud Group and leads a global organization that develops and promotes HPC platform software technologies for the HPC ecosystem. We talked about Figen’s role at Intel, the importance of women in IT and why Open Source is a great place for women, ‘Open Source is a fantastic place for women to showcase what they have – there’s no hierarchy, you’re only bound by your ability to contribute, and your intelligence and your knowledge base…’ Figen also told me about some of the initiatives that are being driven by Intel to ensure women are proportionally represented.

Next, I had a quick Q&A with Kathy Bennett of IBM. Kathy is the VP of ISV Technical Enablement in the IBM Systems Unit. She’s responsible for technical enablement of commercial ISVs and open source software and leads a global team of Senior Architects and SW Engineers whose focus is delivering optimized ISV and Open Source SW solutions on IBM Systems. Kathy briefly chatted about what influenced her decision to embark on a career in IT and why she thought it important to encourage more women into the field, ‘Women bring a different perspective…and whenever you bring new perspectives into any industry there’s value’.

Lastly, we caught up with Katsue Tanaka of Fujitsu. Katsue is the SVP of the Platform Software Business Unit and has been leading the group since April 2016. Her responsibilities include business, strategy and development of platform software for Mission Critical systems as well as for on premise, private and public cloud. Under her organization she manages 4 subsidiary companies which develop and provide solutions based on advanced open source software technologies. Katsue hardly speaks any English so it astounded us when she spoke with Michael Miller in English, on stage at SUSECON. And she did it with such grace that the audience loved it. During our interview, Katsue talks about the beginning of her career as a software engineer and provides some personal insight into the challenges women in IT can face and ways to overcome them. She also gives some great career advice that I think works for anyone ‘imagine what you want to be in ten, twenty years from now. Then work backwards from that image of your future self’. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Japanese so we added a version with subtitles for others like me.

At SUSE, we pride ourselves on being the open “OPEN” source provider and that philosophy doesn’t just apply to software and technology.  We are equally open when hiring and are happy to have partners that share the same sentiment.  If you would like to hear more from these amazing women, be sure to watch their keynote features from SUSECON 2016 below. Also check out our openings at


Dr.Figen Ulgen at SUSECON 2016

Kathy Bennett at SUSECON 2016

Katsue Tanaka at SUSECON 2016



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