Coraline Ada Ehmke

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Coraline Ada Ehmke
Portrait photograph of Coraline Ada Ehmke
Coraline Ada Ehmke
Occupation(s)Technologist, speaker, writer
Notable workCulture Offset, Contributor Covenant, Post-Meritocracy Manifesto

Coraline Ada Ehmke is an American software developer and open source advocate[1] based in Chicago, Illinois. She began her career as a web developer in 1994 and has worked in a variety of industries, including engineering, consulting, education, advertising, healthcare, and software development infrastructure. She is known for her work in Ruby, and in 2016 earned the Ruby Hero award at RailsConf, a conference for Ruby on Rails developers. She is also known for her social justice work and activism, writing the Contributor Covenant and Post-Meritocracy Manifesto, and promoting the widespread adoption of codes of conduct for open source projects and communities.


Ehmke began writing software in 1994, using the Perl programming language. She has since written software in ASP.NET and Java, before discovering Ruby in 2007.[2] She is the author of 25 Ruby gems[3] and has contributed to projects including Rspec and Ruby on Rails. She has spoken frequently at software conferences,[4][5] and she has given keynote addresses at multiple technology conferences worldwide, including RubyFuza in Cape Town, South Africa[6] and RubyConf Brazil.[7]

In 2013 at the Madison+ Ruby conference, Ehmke was among a group of people who announced the creation of a community for LGBT technologists called LGBTech. During this announcement, she also came out publicly as transgender.[8]

In 2014, Ehmke created, a website to help all women contribute to open source by connecting them with mentors and pair programming partners, and identifying open source projects that welcome diverse contributors.[2][9][5]

Also in 2014, she created the Contributor Covenant, a code of conduct used in over 40,000 open source projects including all such projects from Google, Microsoft, and Apple.[10][11][12] In 2016, she received a Ruby Hero award in recognition of her work on the Contributor Covenant.[13][14] After allegations of sexual harassment were made against the founder and CEO of GitHub and his wife in March 2014, Ehmke joined Betsy Haibel to create a service called the Culture Offset. Culture Offset allowed people who wished to boycott GitHub but were unable to do so because it was necessary for their work to "offset" their use by directing donations to organizations working to help underrepresented people in the technology industry. This project was featured in the Wall Street Journal and Wired Magazine.[15][16] Ehmke is also the author of the Post-Meritocracy Manifesto.[17]

Ehmke was a panelist on the Ruby Rogues podcast from 2014 to 2016,[18] and is a founding panelist on the Greater Than Code podcast.[19][5] She serves on the boards of directors for Ruby Together and RailsBridge.[20][21]

In 2016, she joined GitHub as a senior developer on a team that develops community management and anti-harassment features for the software platform.[22] She was fired approximately a year later, and on July 5, 2017 published an article criticizing GitHub's culture and the circumstances surrounding her severance.[23][24][25] Her story was featured in a 2017 report on hush clauses and non-disparagement agreements published by CNN.[26]

In 2018 Ehmke participated in a debate at the United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland on the topic of tech companies being a threat to human rights.[27][28][29] Ehmke created the "Hippocratic License" (described as "An Ethical License for Open Source Projects") and in 2020 founded the Organization for Ethical Source.[30][31][non-primary source needed]

Ehmke has been the repeated subject of negative reporting by far-right organizations and bloggers including Breitbart News,[32][33] and has described herself as a "Notorious Social Justice Warrior" after being given the moniker in a Breitbart article about her joining GitHub.[34][35]

Personal life[edit]

Ehmke is transgender, and began her transition in March 2014.[34][36] She has been public about her transition in hopes of helping others, and has given several interviews about her experiences transitioning and working as a trans woman in technology.[34][37][38] She has also given a talk about her experiences titled "He Doesn't Work Here Anymore" at the Keep Ruby Weird, Alterconf, and Madison+ Ruby conferences.[39][36]

Ehmke writes and records music and has released several albums under the name A Little Fire Scarecrow.[34][37][40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Who is welcome online?" (PDF). Internet Health Report 2019. v.1.0. Mozilla: 46. 2018.
  2. ^ a b Ehmke, Coraline Ada (October 7, 2015). "Refactoring to a Happier Development Team" (Interview). Interviewed by Gareth Wilson. Fog Creek. Archived from the original on July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  3. ^ "Coraline Ada". RubyGems. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b c Knowles, Bryan (Spring 2018). "Coraline Ada Ehmke: Promoting Richer Open Source Communities". XRDS. 24 (3): 60–61. doi:10.1145/3186707. S2CID 4697200.
  6. ^ "Rubyfuza". Rubyfuza. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  7. ^ "RubyConf Brazil". Archived from the original on January 12, 2018. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  8. ^ Ehmke, Coraline Ada (September 2, 2015). He Doesn't Work Here Anymore (Videotape).
  9. ^ "About". OS4W. Archived from the original on May 27, 2018. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  10. ^ "Contributor Covenant: A Code of Conduct for Open Source Projects". Contributor Covenant. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  11. ^ Evans, Jon (March 5, 2016). "On the war between hacker culture and codes of conduct". TechCrunch. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  12. ^ Bostick, Chad (November 4, 2016). "GitHub's Anti-Harassment Tools and the Open Source Codes of Conduct". Hello Tech Pros. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  13. ^ "2016 Ruby Heroes". Ruby Heroes. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  14. ^ RailsConf (May 12, 2016). Ruby Hero Awards (Videotape). Confreaks. 3:52 minutes in.
  15. ^ Wells, Georgia (March 21, 2014). "In Wake of GitHub Incident, Coders Launch 'Culture Offset'". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  16. ^ Finley, Klint (March 17, 2014). "An Advocate for Women in the Valley Quits GitHub, Citing Harassment". Wired. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  17. ^ Robertson, Adi (September 21, 2018). "With Linux's founder stepping back, will the community change its culture?". The Verge. Archived from the original on 2018-09-21. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  18. ^ "The Ruby Rogues". Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  19. ^ "Panelists". Greater Than Code. Archived from the original on June 25, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  20. ^ "Ruby Together Team". Ruby Together. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  21. ^ "Team". RailsBridge. Archived from the original on July 6, 2017. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  22. ^ Ehmke, Coraline Ada (February 24, 2016). "I'm thrilled to announce that I will be joining the team at @github next month to work on community management and anti-harassment tools". Twitter. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  23. ^ Ehmke, Coraline Ada (July 5, 2017). "Antisocial Coding: My Year at GitHub". Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  24. ^ Jao, Charline (July 5, 2017). "Former GitHub Employee Writes About Company's Failure to Uphold Its Own Values". The Mary Sue. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  25. ^ Bort, Julie (July 6, 2017). "A GitHub programmer turned down a severance check so she could speak out about her frustrating experience". Business Insider. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  26. ^ O'Brien, Sara Ashley (July 8, 2017). "Why Sexism Has Festered For So Long in Silicon Valley". CNN Tech. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  27. ^ "Forum Debate: Are Tech Companies a Threat to Human Rights?".
  28. ^ "Forum debate: Are tech companies a threat to human rights?".
  29. ^ "Human Rights Microaggressions in the Tech Industry".
  30. ^ "Hippocratic License". Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  31. ^ "The Ethical Source Movement". Retrieved July 14, 2020.
  32. ^ Finley, Klint (September 26, 2018). "The Woman Bringing Civility to Open Source Projects". Wired. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  33. ^ Seavers, Kris (October 2, 2017). "How 'social justice warrior' went from hero to joke". The Daily Dot. Retrieved November 14, 2018.
  34. ^ a b c d "Coraline Ada Ehmke". Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  35. ^ "@CoralineAda". Twitter. Retrieved July 7, 2017.
  36. ^ a b "Talk: He Doesn't Work Here Anymore". Alterconf. 2015. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  37. ^ a b Ehmke, Coraline Ada. "Interview with Coraline Ada Ehmke". Geek Girl Rising. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  38. ^ Heidel, Evelin (September 30, 2016). "Your presence as a political statement: the story of Coraline Ada". GenderIT. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  39. ^ Madison+ Ruby (September 23, 2015). "Video: He Doesn't Work Here Anymore by @CoralineAda". Twitter. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  40. ^ "A Little Fire Scarecrow". Retrieved July 9, 2017.

External links[edit]