International Women’s Day: Celebrating Women in Tech

International Women's Day: Celebrating Women in Tech

In honor of International Women’s Day, we are celebrating women in Tech with identifying some of the leading female figures who have left their mark on the technology industry throughout the course of history. Whilst our list is in no particular order and it could, of course, be topped up with countless other extraordinary women, we will focus on some of the key influencers. 

1. Ada Lovelace, The World’s First Computer Programmer

London-born Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the daughter of the romantic poet, Lord Byron. From a young age, Ada developed a passion for mathematics. She is attributed with being the world’s first computer programmer, as she crafted strategies for how a machine called the Analytical Engine could execute computations. 

Ada’s contributions to the computer science arena were not discovered until 1953 when her notes were reintroduced and republished to the world by B.V. Bowden. Since then, Ada has received countless honors for her work. In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense named the computer language “ADA” after Lovelace. 

2. Grace Hopper, The Queen of Software

Grace Hopper (1906–1992) was an admiral in the United States Navy and was assigned to program the Mark I computer. Besides, while she was working on the Mark I, Hopper invented the word “bug” to represent a computer glitch. Hopper is known for her commitment to the programming language. She was the pioneer in using the English language instead of symbols. Hopper’s idea was revolutionary at the time, and many believed it impossible to program with English words. Before long, however, Hopper’s ideas had led to COBOL, an innovative computer language that is still in use today.

“Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”

~Grace Hopper

3. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, First Female Computer Science PhD 

Mary Kenneth Keller (1913- 1985) was the first female in the US to be awarded a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Sister Keller entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and after declaring her vows, she started studying at DePaul University, achieving a B.S in Mathematics and an M.S. in Mathematics and Physics. Her individuality as a nun didn’t shape her success as a remarkable computer scientist. She balanced both functions wonderfully, and she serves as an incredible testament to the influence of hard work intelligence. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller confirmed that victory in STEM is possible for anyone, notwithstanding religious belief, identity, or gender.

4. Radia Perlman, The Mother Of Internet 

Born (born December 1951) and nicknamed the “Mother of the Internet,” Radia’s discovery of the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), was significant in forming the Internet we know today. Her work has been defined as having put the primary traffic rules into position for the Internet. STP assures that a network remains configured to ensure that data is delivered when a user or machine calls for it. The theory was adopted as an IEEE standard for bridge technology and still remains in place today. Perlman also invented algorithms to create link-state protocols such as IS-IS and OSPF effective and scalable.

5. Katherine Johnson, The NASA Mathematician

Katherine Johnson (1918 -2020) assisted in confirming the accuracy of computers utilized by NASA and conducted critical calculations that guaranteed safe space travel from the 1950s onwards. She also co-authored a research report that utilized equations for orbital spaceflight in 1960, offered trajectory analysis for the initial human space flight in 1961, and operated equations on a desktop mechanical calculating device prior to the 1962 orbital mission of John Glenn.

The Present Day 

Despite the extensive conversations surrounding gender diversity in tech, the sad truth prevails that women are still underpaid, underrepresented, and often discriminated against in the industry. 

A report by Catalyst, suggests that women make up almost half (46.9%) of the total workforce; however, things do not appear so striking when it comes to the tech industry. Women have come a long way in the workplace in respect of the roles they take on, and lately, stereotypical men’s jobs, such as building, transport, and plumbing, have become more popular amongst females. However, women are still making up a very small percentage of the tech sector, with only a quarter of roles being filled by females, demonstrating that not enough are women opting for tech careers.  Women In Tech report by PWC, girls are less likely to study STEM subjects in high school, where only 64% of girls opt for STEM subjects as opposed to 83% of boys in high school. Similar gender disparity is evident at the university, with only 30% of females taking STEM courses as opposed to 52% of males. The gap stretches when it comes to engineering courses, with only 2% of female university students opting to take engineering courses. 

So, what can be done to preserve women in tech, attract more girls to STEM, and sustain their enthusiasm? We lack role models in technology to coach young women, help them uncover new things, believe in themselves, and move ahead, despite the many hurdles in their way. 

The Importance Of Education

Businesses and technology organizations require more imaginative minds. This is through creating a more inclusive and diverse workforce. Given the influence of tech in our daily lives and to the global economy, it concerns all of us that the tech expertise might dry up. Only 3 percent of women chose a career in tech, 78 percent of students are unable to identify a famous female working in tech, and women take just 5 percent of leadership positions in the tech arena. 

If we concentrate on the generations to come and the course girls and young women will take, we can modify a trend that has endured for way too long.

It’s time we direct our efforts on the next generation of tech talent and ensure gender equality exists for the welfare of everyone. This means more flexible working systems, more women in leadership positions, and more support from an early age for girls and boys to pursue whatever they are authentically engrossed in. It’s an uphill battle, but we need it.