It’s no secret that the technology industry is a male dominated industry. At Hamilton Barnes we work in the technology industry and we see that most networking professionals that get placed within tech companies are men. Therefore, we were very interested to dive into the history books to learn and write about what the impact of women in technology has been throughout the years. What mark did women leave and what impact do women have in tech these days?
Today (10th of October) it’s Ada Lovelace Day. During this day the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) are celebrated. In 2015 only 14.4% of all people working in STEM occupations in the UK were women. The aim of celebrating this day is to increase the profile of women in STEM and create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women who already work in this field.
We start off with Ada Lovelace. Maybe this is old news for some but for who doesn’t have a clue, Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was an English mathematician and writer and often regarded as the first computer programmer. She is known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine.
Ada’s notes were republished in 1953 more than a century after her death. The engine has now been recognised as an early model for a computer and her notes are seen as a description of a computer and software. Sadly, the engine was never completed so her program has never been tested.
Next up are the Girls of ENIAC. ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer. It was the first electronic general-purpose computer. The construction of ENIAC in the 1940s marked a major milestone in computing’s early history.
Kay McNulty, Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Marlyn Wescoff, Fran Bilas and Ruth Lichterman are sometimes referred to as the first “ENIAC Girls”. These 6 female programmers were selected of a group of 200 female computers who studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Women were needed because of the lack of male engineers, who at that time mostly served at war. Because of this, women were offered jobs normally reserved for men. After the war many female computers got replaced by returning soldiers, but the ENIAC Girls continued working on the projects.
Sadly, their work on the ENIAC was never acknowledged. Which raises the question, how can women be encouraged into fields such as programming if some of the most ground-breaking work carried out by women in the industry hasn’t been acknowledged?
Moving on to an American computer scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral, Grace Hopper or sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace” (1906-1992). She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer back in 1944. She invented the first compiler for a computer programming language and was one of those who popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level programming languages. So we can basically call her “the Queen of Software.”
These women are only a small selection out of many successful women in tech throughout the years. Yet we would also like to look into a few successful women, who are making a difference in tech today.
As we specialise in the Networking industry at Hamilton Barnes we can’t forget Radia Perlman, a Network Engineer and Software Designer. She is well known for her invention of the spanning-tree protocol (STP), an innovation that made today’s Internet possible. Her work transformed the Ethernet protocol from using a few nodes over a limited distance, into something able to create large networks. Because of this she is sometimes referred to as the “Mother of the Internet”, a title she actually dislikes.
Radia Perlman is not only a network engineer as she also wrote a book about networking and was co-author of a book about network security.
Perlman is currently an Intel fellow, helping the company improve its network and security technologies.
Next up is the COO of one of the most influential companies of the moment, Sheryl Sandberg. She is an American technology executive, activist and author. She is the COO of Facebook and founder of Lean-In a non-profit organization and online community dedicated to helping all women achieve their ambitions. In 2012 she became the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board. Before becoming Facebook’s COO, Sheryl was VP of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google.
For four years in a row, Sheryl Sandberg has been named the most powerful women in technology on the Forbes Power Women list, placing 8th on the overall list. Sandberg is powerful not only as COO of one of the most influential companies in the world, but also as a voice for female empowerment in the workplace.
Another well-known tech company is led by Susan Wojcicki, the current CEO of YouTube. In her earlier career she took part in the development of successful contributions to Google such as Google Images. Wojcicki grew within Google to become senior VP of Advertising & Commerce and lead the advertising and analytic products such as AdWords and Google Analytics. She developed AdSense, which became Google’s second largest source of revenue.
When YouTube was still a small start-up, Wojcicki proposed to Google’s board that the company should Purchase YouTube. She handled the acquisition of the $1.65 billion purchase of YouTube in 2006 and became YouTube’s CEO in February 2014.
Interesting fact is that she is often quoted talking about the importance of finding balance between family and career. She is top business women, married and a mother of five children. ahead of taking her fifth maternity leave, Wojcicki wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the importance of paid maternity leave.
This name will be a familiar one for most of us as the company she leads has been in the news a lot about a data breach scandal. Next up is Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. Before becoming the CEO and president of Yahoo, Mayer was a long-time executive, usability leader and key spokesperson for Google. Mayer was Google’s first female engineer, having joined the company back in 1999, when it was still a start-up
She is the youngest member of Google’s executive operating committee at then age 36, and an inspiration to women aspiring careers in technology.