The theme for International Women’s Day 2022 (IWD) is #BreakTheBias, a global call to action that asks us all to take action and level the playing field. Whether intentional or unconscious, bias can make it difficult for women (trans, cis, femmes), nonbinary and gender-non-conforming folks to get ahead in life. Discrimination affects all industries, including the open movement.
At Creative Commons, we believe openness can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness in life and business, while also making social processes more democratic, fostering diversity, promoting civil society engagement, including contributions from marginalized and underrepresented communities and groups. That’s why it is key that we, in the open movement, ensure we are centering gender equity in all our work, making it a matter of concern and action, so that we can truly break the bias.
Ahead of IWD on Tuesday 8 March, we took a look back to our ‘Women in Open’ panel from CC Global Summit 2021 to bring to the forefront inspirational words from some awesome women breaking through the barriers and working to make the internet and our global culture more open and collaborative.
The conversation was moderated by Delia Browne, CC Board Member and National Copyright Director, National Copyright Unit (Australia). On the panel, we had Lila Bailey, Senior Policy Counsel for the Internet Archive, Kaitlin Thaney, Executive Director of Invest in Open Infrastructure, and Jennie Rose Halperin, Executive Director of Library Futures.
Here’s an excerpt from the conversation, where Delia asked the panelists about their women role models. Watch the full panel discussion here.
Delia: Because we’re here celebrating the women of Creative Commons, and this has been a wonderful thing that we’ve been doing for the past few summits — who is your woman idol or mentor, that you’d want to pay respect to?
Lila: So Delia, for me, you are like my most obvious answer. I just feel when I was back in the day, you took me under your wing and were just so welcoming and taught me so much not only about how it works in Australia, but how Creative Commons works as a global network. And just really your friendship and your openness… and you’re just like telling it how it is always, no matter what has always, just really impressed me. And so you are a big inspiration and a mentor to me. And I also want to say Delia has been there [Creative Commons] since the very beginning. And I just want to say here in this moment to say that I’m so delighted to know Catherine Stihler, now — I did not know anything about her until she became the CEO. But we’ve been working together, and I’m just so thrilled by her version of leadership, and I’m so excited to see where she’s going to take this organization. I’m really thrilled to have more women coming in and women staying in.
Kaitlin:This one’s tough, I will say, because there weren’t a ton of women in science under the age of 35, let alone 50, when we were doing this sort of work, I will get to the women mentees—but I also have to say that Hal Ableson, James Boyle, Mike Carroll and John Willbanks were like instrumental in making sure I was prepared for the level of scrutiny of being a woman that was younger going and speaking in traditionally male dominated spaces. That was in many cases, a place that did not always feel safe, and they made sure that I was prepared, that I was supported, and I’m eternally grateful for that. I hope that is not what we need to train others in the same sort of way, but just a huge shout out for their foresight there. I will also say that in terms of individuals in the space, both mentors and mentees Danielle Robinson, who’s Co-Executive Director of Code for Science & Society, where I’m not only on the board, but also now lucky enough to be a fiscally sponsored project. She was one of my former Mozilla fellows and is now leading very authentically an organization that imbues care and openness, leadership and support for a broad variety of projects. And so it’s one of those amazing examples where I continue to learn from her, but it also has come full circle. And I think that is really important as well in terms of looking at ways in which we can pay that forward.
Jennie: I feel very lucky to have been nurtured by all the women on this panel, as well as by Catherine. I’ve had a close relationship with the first librarian I ever really got to know, who is Jenna Freedman, the Zine Librarian at Barnard College, which is where I first encountered a lot of the free culture ideas that I have spent my career working with… As far as mentors go, Jenna is for ever, but I also really do feel lucky to have been nurtured by all of you. Particularly as somebody who is a younger ED, who was tapped on the shoulder, like “do you want to try a strategy?”, “well do what actually, just do this thing?” And now it’s been a really exciting 10 months, and to be honest, I really see most of my relationships as being a two-way street, like Caitlin said… I’ve had the opportunity and joy to work with a lot of folks within the Library Futures community who are really doing the work of controlled digital lending, or really doing the on the ground work with patrons and with user communities, and getting to know a whole new group of folks… Again, a long way of saying I feel nurtured by most of the people I get to interact with, and I feel like that makes me in many ways one of the most fortunate people within the space.