16 Jan Women in Tech (5 Great Role Models for Kids)
Let's get started by naming some great role model for kids.
Take a second to think of a few… I’ll wait!
Now, how many of them were women? Hopefully a few, right?
How many of them were modern women? Well, most of them were probably dead, right?
And how many of them were women in Tech? Um, eh, ok.
When we think of great role models for our kids, it’s easier to remember the great men we’ve learned (oh so much) about. We expect our daughters to aspire to male role models, but we rarely ask our sons to do the same with female ones.
Why is that? Do we think our sons aren’t capable of making the mental leap our daughters have to do every time? Surely not! Is it because there are no great female role models in Tech? Definitely not!
Maybe it’s because we literally just don’t tell the stories of the amazing women in tech because we’re so used to men being at the centre of that world? Umm, very possibly yes.
So, in the great new tradition of Feminist Parenting, I’ve compiled a list of Great Role Models in Tech…. Who also happen to BE women because women are awesome too!
Women in Tech: Raida Perlman
Raida Perlman is (reluctantly) known as the Mother of the Internet. Look, if that’s not an inspirational role model, I don’t know what is. She gave birth to this thing! She pioneered an algorithm that literally made the internet possible! (It’s called the Spanning Tree Protocol ) In fact Spanning Tree not only made the internet possible, it also made the actual rules for controlling all the traffic.
That’s right folks, Raida Perlman gave birth to and sorted out the bloomin internet!
She then went and pioneered another algorithm to replace her first one, because she thought things could just be a bit better. Friends, I literally can’t even spell algorithm. Spell check gets me through. Perlman is a role model for all tech-heads and generally anyone who enjoys using the interweb.
She also co-wrote a paper in the 1970s describing a tablet computer! She ‘more or less’ invented them really, because Steve Jobs actually visited her place of work at Xerox PARC and demanded a demonstration of the user interface she had build (Hers was based on graphics as opposed to the old line-based interfaces).
She tried to keep her work from him, but her bosses ordered her to share it with Jobs. Later on, Apple released their Macintosh computer, with a revolutionary graphics based user interface, based on many of her ideas.
That’s right, Goldberg’s work is basically the basis of all your Apple devices´ desktops.
Quite an impact she had on tech and society!
Women in Tech: Hedy Lamarr
Have you heard of a modern invention called ‘WI-FI? Well, Without Hedy Lamarr, it simply wouldn’t exist. Not Wifi, not GPS and not Bluetooth. Literally, how would ever get anywhere without Lamarr?
She was actually trying to prevent military transmissions safe from enemy spies during World War 2!
That technology is now what powers your cell phone's data network. Her inventions are what’s connecting you to the world around you. And Hollywood would like to remember has as ‘pretty’.
Women in Tech: Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper was a Rear-Admiral in the US Navy and was one of the first ever computer programmers!
That’s right, women were in Tech right from the beginning. She programmed the Mark 1 computer for Harvard, which the US government later used for the infamous Manhattan project.
She was a central figure in developing the first commercial computer, the UNIVAC I , which changed the course of computers in society (Before that, only fancy programmers could 'talk' to computers.)
In the 1950s she invented the first ever Compiler (a system that lets us 'speak' in plain English to computers, rather than numerical code). That opened up the world of computers to us mere mortal non-programming folk, changing the course of computers in society forever.
And as if that wasn’t enough, she co-developed the commercial computer language COBOL, which is the backbone of information technology for businesses and is still widely used to this very day.
Look, basically, if you’re using a computer - you’re using Grace Hopper’s work. Oh, and if you've ever had a 'computer bug' - you can go ahead and thank Hopper for coining that phrase too!
Women in Tech: Marissa Mayer
You could be forgiven for thinking that Marissa Meyer earned her job as CEO of Yahoo due to her business skills. A quick google search on her though shows that she was the lead developer on, oh wait, what? Google Search! She built the search engine that you’re using to search for her. Boom.
She also lead the creation of Google Images, Google News, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Product Search, Google Toolbar, iGoogle, and Gmail. She’s also responsible for Googles’ unadorned search home page and for Google AdWords. How many of those do you use every day?!
That’s right, a self proclaimed ‘proud geek’, Meyer was employee #20 at google, and their first ever female employee. She was an amazing coder.
With her attention to detail and education in computer science & artificial intelligence, she eventually earned a vice president role at Google.
She became President, CEO and and Board of Directors member while she was literally pregnant and made Fortune magazine history in 2013, as the only person to feature in all three of its annual lists during the same year. Oh la la, talk about a list of achievements.
Women in Tech: So there you have it.
Until now, when you’ve thought of great role models in tech, you may have thought mainly of men. That’s because the stories of awesome women in tech don’t tend to make it to the light so often. Here at feministfactclub.com we’re working on changing that, so our children (whatever gender they are) can learn how strong, interesting, capable and generally fantastic women can be too.
Do you know of more awesome women in tech? Please do comment below and let me know. I’m already compiling my sequel - ‘Women in Tech 2019 - Even More Great Role Models For Kids’ blog post, so I’d love to hear from you!