When the announcement came out that Yoko Harada was a winner of the Ruby Hero award this year, she made the tech community proud. “Ruby is a programming language designed for productivity and fun”, according to Skillcrush, the new female-founded company which makes tech accessible to anyone.
What is noteworthy about this award is that the winners are selected based on pure merit by the community, not by journalists, venture capital judges or non-coders. The previous winners select the winner based on contributions they have made to the Ruby community in open source code projects, educational content, and the creation of new plugins and applications. Yoko won for the Nokogiri project, which is the integration of the two coding languages: Java and Ruby, in order to create JRuby which allows users to quickly parse through other coding languages such as HTML, XML, SAX and things like Google Reader documents to find specific information.
What is equally significant is that Yoko’s contribution to Nokigiri was what enabled another professional developer, Vanessa Hurst, to solve a complex problem of parsing information to find hidden advertisements for possible cases of child prostitution.
Vanessa, who was a long time data and analytics developer for Paperless Post, attended the first weekend long JumpThru and Girl Develop It Hackathon for women last summer. During our Hackathon, which was aimed at combating sex-trafficking, Vanessa used Nokogiri to take data from Backpage.com and transferred it into a Ruby application in order to identify certain patterns and instances. What was uncovered with the use of Yoko Harada’s Nokogiri were numerous advertisements that were then flagged as possible advertisements for child prostitution for Backpage to investigate.
These two wildly capable women are great examples of what women are contributing to advances in technology. For Yoko, this award is just one of her many achievements which span across a decade of Java development and include committing to various open source projects, writing three books, delivering several talks and creating a wide range of helpful tools and applications. Currently, Yoko is 100% involved in pure volunteer open-source development. Vanessa is a Co-Founder of Girl Develop It, which offers programming classes aimed at attracting more women developers, and is a Data and Analytics consultant to the online stationery website Paperless Post.