I’ve been in my new job for a month now (time files when you’re having fun) and am getting used to being the only female on the team of kickass techies. So when I was asked to sign up to Ada Lovelace Day on Twitter, it caught my interest. It turns out that 24th March is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science. Launched last year, the aim is to get as many people as possible blogging about their tech heroine. Great idea! I thought, and promptly signed up. But herein lies my dilemma. As I said, I’m the only girl on a team of techies, and not to labour a point already done to death, but I can’t get away from the fact less than a quarter of techies are female, so it’s an interesting challenge to identify my tech heroine. Here are some of my contenders. Grace Hopper was the third person to program the Mark I computer at Harvard in the early 1940’s. She soon realised that the computer could be brought to a much wider audience if there were tools that were both programmer and application friendly, so in 1949 she joined the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation and provide businesses with computers. She conceptualized and led the development of COBOL and also is responsible for identifying the term ‘bugs’ as fixing problems (sparked by a moth in the computer).
Katherine Blodgett invented the world’s first 100% transparent or invisible glass. Her patented film and process (1938) has been used for many purposes including limiting distortion in eyeglasses, microscopes, telescopes, camera and projector lenses. In 1917 she was the first female scientist hired by General Electric’s Research Laboratory and in 1926 became with the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from Cambridge University.
Estelle Akofio-Sowah is the Managing Director of business centre Busy in Ghana. Established in 2001, BusyInternet is the largest privately-owned and operated ICT centre in Africa. Living in a country where running water is not guaranteed puts the concept of technology in perspective. Estelle’s business was borne of frustration at the development sector and a determination to make a difference.
Anita Borg has been driven in her goal to encourage women to pursue a career in IT. She launched the Systers online community in 1987 and in 1994, co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. In 1997 her work culminated when she founded the Institute for Women and Technology, running programmes and partnerships to ensure women are included in all aspects of technology.
The Ada Lovelace Day is a great way for anyone in IT to be inspired by some amazing role models.