When we think about STEM fields, it seems many of us automatically assume that men have always dominated and always will. In celebration of the 8th of March, here's an article that proves not only women have what it takes, but that we pioneered some of the greatest tech inventions that evolved into things like GPS, Wifi, and so much more. Here is a celebration of
10 Women In Tech You Probably Don't Know About
1. Ada Lovelace: The First Computer Programmer?
Her mathematical talent shone through in her early life, and her skills and interest in machines lead to a working relationship with Charles Babbage, inventor of the “Analytical Engine”. A complicated device that was never actually created, but resembled the elements of a modern computer. As a result of her work on the project, Ada is often referred to as the “world’s first computer programmer”. Lovelace's notes on the Analytical Engine were used by Alan Turing as a form of inspiration for his work on the first modern computer in the 1940s.
2. Annie Easley: NASA Rocket Scientist
Annie was a NASA rocket scientist, a trailblazer for gender and racial diversity in STEM, and one heck of a role model. She was one of only four black employees at the Lab where she was hired. 34 years later, she had contributed to numerous programs as a computer scientist, inspired many through her enthusiastic participation in outreach programs, and broken down barriers as equal employment opportunity counsellor. Easley's vital work on the Centaur rocket project laid the foundations for space shuttle launches in the future.
"You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist."
- Indira Ghandi
3. Grace Hopper: Computer Scientist
Undeniably famous in the tech world, Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper was a computer scientist and one of the first computer programmers working on the Harvard Mark I. Her work led to the development of COBOL, an early programming language we is still used to this day. In 1947, she recorded the worlds first ever real computer bug, and it is also said that she coined the phrase:
It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
4. Mary Wilkes: First User of the Home Computer
A former computer programmer and logic designer, she is best known for designing the software for the LINC, one of the earliest systems of an interactive personal computer. Her use of the LINC at home in 1965 made her the first ever home computer user, and her work has been recognized at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.
5. Hedy Lamarr : Inventor of WiFi?
A self-taught inventor and film actress, Hedy was awarded a patent in 1942 for her "secret communication system", designed with the help of the composer George Antheil. This frequency hopping system was meant as a way to set radio-guided torpedoes off course during the war, but the idea eventually inspired Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth technology! The moral here: never underestimate your ideas and what they may one day lead to. Maybe next year, your face will be here!
6. Adele Goldberg: GUI's Inspiration
Instrumental in the development of the programming language Smalltalk-80, which inspired the very first Apple computer, Adele is said to have referred to the decision to show Steve Jobs Smalltalk as a way to “give away the kitchen sink”. Little did she know! The concepts that Adele and her team set in motion became the basis for graphical user interfaces (GUI) we use every day.
7. Radia Pearlman: The Mother of the Internet
With a nickname like “Mother of the Internet”, you're left with no choice but to find out WHY. Radia’s invention of the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), was instrumental in making today's internet possible. Her work made a huge impact on the way networks self-organize and move data, and put the basic rules of internet traffic in place.
As a lover of all things computer science and being absolutely fascinated with the internet of things, I can't help but get a huge grin from ear to ear when I read about Radia. She knew what the future held!
I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.
- Serena Williams
8. Katherine Johnson: Mathematician for NASA
Her trajectory analysis as a mathematician for NASA was crucial to the success of the first ever US space flight. Her complex manual calculations were also critical in future space missions, including the first American in orbit, John Glenn. Katherine ran the numbers programmed into the computer at NASA for the flight by hand, at the request of Glenn. Katherine remembers him saying “if she says they’re good... “then I’m ready to go.” At age 97, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour, by President Obama.
9. Karen Sparck-Jones: Information Science Pioneer
Her work is some of the most highly cited in her field. Her development of Inverse Document Frequency (IDF), a weighting factor which evaluates how important a word is to a document, is now standard in web search engines and used to rank a document’s relevance to a search query. She received the highly acclaimed Lovelace Medal in 2007!
With women like these leading the way, it is no wonder more and and more women are taking the leap into STEM fields. In Canada, 38% of graduates from STEM fields are women! Those are numbers I can get behind!
I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.
10. Elizabeth Feinler: The OG Search Engine
Between 1972 to 1989, Elizabeth ran the Network Information Center in California, which was a bit like a “pre-historic Google.” The NIC was the first place to publish the resources and directories for the Internet, developing the original "white pages" and “yellow pages” directories. Her group also developed the domain naming scheme of .com, .edu, .gov, .net, and many more that we use so commonly today.
I wonder if she knew Google would become the overpowered entity that it is today? Does she agree with their methods of moderation? I am always curious as to what the pioneers thinks of what became of their inventions. What a moral conundrum this one is!
5 Women Changing the Tech World Today
1. Kike Oniwinde: Founder & CEO of the BYP Network
Being a women in tech means breaking barriers so that those who come after me won't have to struggle the same way. It means showing the world my ability and believing in myself wholeheartedly.
2. Chelsea Brown: CEO & Founder, Digital Mom Talk and a Certified Cyber Security Consultant for Families and businesses
Being a woman in tech means educating parents and businesses what they should have been taught from the beginning: how to protect themselves and their assets online. Too many people and businesses are losing what matters most to them simply because they didn't learn how to properly secure their online environments. They won't do it because they think "It's too complicated!" Or "I don't need it. I'm not at risk!" The truth is it's as complicated as you make it and everyone is a bigger risk than they believe.
3. Andrea Loubier: CEO & Founder of Mailbird
Being a woman in the tech world shows just how innovation works. The industry is well-known for its numerous male entrepreneurs, but establishing myself as a true contender shows just how quickly things can change. In the beginning, when I was fundraising, I felt as if I needed to go the extra step to showcase my product and to illustrate that this was more than a side hustle or an impulse startup. I was in it for the long haul and, as I began to make my rounds with meetings and calls, I slowly began to realize that I was actually being judged for my merits, and not whether I was male or female. That was a hurdle that I needed to overcome - for myself. And now I find that I thoroughly enjoy offering an email client to thousands of customers. And I am proud to be a successful female entrepreneur in the tech industry.
4. Vy Luu:General Manager at Real Estate Webmasters
Being a woman in tech is about having and fostering courage—in ourselves and others, to go after the unconventional, untried, and crazy ideas. In my preteen years, I became aware that certain activities or jobs were less acceptable for girls. I was curious and energized by the constraint. I explored technology because I loved the way it could change the way we do things and create new learning opportunities. I never saw it as a space that girls and women shouldn’t explore and I hope to encourage parents, kids and adults to consider it too.
5. Resham Saujani: CEO of Girls Who Code
Girls Who Code is more than an international non-profit. We are a movement. Teach girls bravery, not perfection.
There you have it. The next time someone makes a joke about girls and STEM, just pull your phone out and whip this puppy out.
It's about time we start to recognize what we have accomplished, and it begins by not letting our stories become dust-covered relics in an attic.
Happy International Women's Day and remember:
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent
See you next time,