March 8th, International Woman’s Day (IWD) - In this blog post, we celebrate 5 women in tech that forever changed technology. Did you know that the inventor of scientific computing, the first compiler, the personal computer, and the technology behind WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, were all women?
Today, let’s talk about those women, their achievements, and the challenges women in tech face today (and how you can help).
Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer because she published the first algorithm destined to be processed by a machine! 😱 She explained how the notion of an engine could transition calculation to computation and she first recognized that a machine has more functionalities beyond pure calculus.
Her love for science and mathematics was influenced by her mother. She is one of the most famous women in technology and is even considered the “Prophet of the Computer Age”. Every second Tuesday in October is known as Ada Lovelace Day, to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM careers.
Born in 1906, Grace Hopper designed the first compiler which translated programmer’s instructions into computer codes! 💻 In 1957, her division developed the first English language data processing complier.
She was the first person to design the theory of machine-independent programming languages and created the FLOW-MATIC programming language, which was later used to create COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.
She joined the Naval Reserve and she helped standardize the Navy’s computer languages. She has been given several awards, one of them being awarded by Barack Obama, as the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
Born in 1914, Hedy Lamarr was co-inventor of the first version of spread spectrum and frequency hopping that allows long-distance wireless communications: technology incorporated in Bluetooth, GPS, and WiFi.
She was self-taught! And a famous actress. So, if you are a woman (or you know women) in other fields that want to work in tech, she can be an inspiration to you.
Born in 1918, Katherine Johnson was a mathematician that made critical calculations to the success of orbital mechanics of NASA crewed spaceflights, to orbit Earth and land on the Moon.
During her career at NASA, she mastered complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform tasks. The space agency noted her "historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist"
Born in 1937, Mary Wilkes is recognized for her work in the creation of the first interactive personal computer while working at IBM.
She designed and wrote the system software as well as the interactive operating system, she is also known to be the first person to ever have a PC in their home!
Challenges for Women in Tech
Women make up just about 25% of technology workers, Latina and Black women, about 1%. The quit rate for women in high tech jobs is 41%, or more than twice that of men.
Despite this huge gender gap in tech, it has been proven that diverse team has better results and they are likelihood to achieve financial outperformance. So, you should pay attention to those underrepresented groups.
How can you help? there are 5 basic keys to close gender gap in technology.
- Encourage girls early: from kinderganden teach girls they can be succesful engineers and have STEM degrees, motivate them with clear opportunities to discover the wonders of science and technology.
- Equitable compensation: men get higher pay than women 59% of the time for same tech jobs. To redude the gender gap in tech, it’s necessary to reduce the pay gap.
- Make women feel safe and included: according to the organization Women Who Tech, a worrying 44% of women founders in tech continue to be harassed, women will keep droping from tech if they don’t feel safe. Not only safety is important but also being taking into account, their ideas and opinions heard and they work valued. This is a key aspect of retaining women in the industry.
- Offer flexible schedule and a good life/work balance: a lot of women in tech are caregivers, females have historically filled most caregiving roles, including children and older parents. Bein more specific, women contribute more than 70% of caregiving hours around the world. Additionally, 21% said they’d negatively impacted their careers. If you provide women with flexible schedule, they can succeed in their careers as well as taking care of their loved ones.
- Formal support: support local women in tech communities, through sponsorship, mentoring, peer support, go to their talks, share their blog and social post and value their work and knowledge. Support ongoing learning to close skill gaps and promote engineering occupations among women.
5 Women you should follow today
- Whitney Wolfe Herd, CEO of Bumble @WhitWolfeHerd
She recently became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire when Bumble IPOed (a dating app where women make the first move and has zero tolerance for misogyny). "Feminism is not about girl power. It's about equal power".
- Diana Trujillo, Flight director of the Perseverance Rover robot in Mars @FromCaliToMars
Colombian aerospae engineer in charge of the robot that is helping us discover mars.
- Katie Moussouris, founder and CEO of Luta Security @k8em0
Entrepreneur building robust vulnerability disclosure and supply chain coordination programs with or without bug bounties.
- Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code @reshmasaujani
An organization which aims to increase the number of women in computer science and close the gender employment difference in that field. Right now Girls Who Code have reached more than 300K girls globally.
- Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube @SusanWojcicki
She has been in the tech industry for over 20 years and she was involved in the founding of Google, and became Google's first marketing manager in 1999.
Happy International Women’s Day! Let’s support #WomenInTech