On the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, Coding Ninjas brings to you a worthwhile read about different inspirational women who revolutionized the field of technology.
The representation of women in the fields of STEM has always been in lower numbers and while there exist strong and determined women who are born to revolutionize the field of technology with their creative and inquisitive minds.
Walking Down The Memory Lane: 5 Women Who Inspire
1. Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) – The prophet of computer age
When the father of computers, Charles Babbage built the computer, the possibilities by the machine were considered to be limited to making calculations and crunching certain numbers. Ada Lovelace because of her inquisitive and curious nature totally changed the perception of a man about computers and brought light to the fact that computers are capable of things way beyond the comprehension of man that day.
Ada Lovelace was the Countess of Lovelace and with the assistance of access to good quality education and being with the right set of people, she was able to develop the first computer algorithm and is regarded as the first female computer programmer.
What one can take away from Ada’s story is that when you couple the right resources with the right mindset you are set out to bring the best in everything you do. There is nothing that can stop you if you fixate your goal and decide to pursue your interest. She is indeed a remarkable example of budding women in STEM.
2. Grace Hopper (1906-1992) – The queen of software
If you ever feel overwhelmed by the fact that you are able to write code in English like language, then you owe thanks to Grace Hopper. She built the first compiler and was successfully able to translate code written in the English language to code which the machine understands. Grace Hopper was a part of the Navy and has received over 40 honorary degrees and was also the proud recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Grace Hopper’s story inspires us to do something new and beautiful. She is a pioneer in the world of software and technology and is an idol for many budding female technologists.
3. Janese Swanson – The woman who builds the future of girls in STEM
Janese Swanson is an enthusiastic software developer and an inquisitive inventor. She is the founder of ‘Girl Tech’ which creates products to aid in the upliftment of women in the field of technology and build their interest to take up the field and create a mark of their own.
The story of Janese Swanson is indeed beautiful and inspirational. She is one of the few women in technology who not only built herself but also made significant contributions to making the technological world a better and interesting field for females and give them a boost into the field of STEM.
4. Gladys West – The mind behind GPS
To explore a new destination or to even reach the right location, you trust the GPS facilities blindly, don’t you? But who was the mind behind creating such a useful and futuristic piece of technology that indeed revolutionised the way we interact with our smartphones today?
Yes, we are talking about Gladys West, an American mathematician who was behind the scenes of the interesting GPS technology.
The life history of Gladys West teaches the importance of self-motivation to break the shackles of poverty and penury. West belonged to the family of a poor farmer and it was hard for her family to make both ends meet let alone pay for her college fee. She was determined to study and raised money from scholarships by studying hard and earned several degrees.
She got associated with the navy and created programs for surveillance satellites which became the base of GPS today. It was her keen interest in the field of mathematics and programming that she was able to make such significant contributions.
5. Margaret Hamilton – The woman who made Apollo 11 possible
An American computer scientist who truly made possible ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind’. Margaret Hamilton was in charge of the team at MIT which actually built the software for Apollo 11. For her invaluable contributions to the success of Apollo 11 mission on the moon and fulfillment of man’s desire to walk the surface of the moon, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President of the United States, Barack Obama. Not only this, she is one of the few people who coined the term ‘software engineering’.
The story of Margaret Hamilton teaches us dedication and creativity. Even in 1969 when the computer software and hardware were not as advanced as the 21st century, she managed to create software robust enough to have managed to land humans on the moon.
Pretty cool! Isn’t it?
Current State Of Women In Technology
- Women make up nearly half (46.9%) of the total workforce.
- As of 2018, women held only 25% of all jobs in the tech industry.
- Only 30% of females take up STEM-related courses and 2% take up engineering.
- 27% of females consider technology as a career.
Women are traditionally considered to be suitable for managerial roles rather than the technical roles and the roles which involve hardcore development. This is essentially because of the lack of examples where women made significant contributions to the field of technology.
ENIAC was programmed by a group of 6 women but their contributions were considered insignificant back then and hence the facts got lost forever in the pages of history. Children when taught computer science in their schools are taught about the father of computers but has anyone heard of the mother of the internet? The lack of role models causes females to be unable to visualise a career in STEM and technology and hence remain underrepresented.
In spite of so many programs being run by the government and companies to promote diversity and inclusion, the tradition mindset overpowers the possibilities the future holds and holds women back from taking up the field which they can actually be amazing at.
Females feel that they’re not cut out for subjects like physics and mathematics and are more suitable for non-technical fields which involve art, essays and beauty. No field is gender-specific, men can easily take up traditionally feminine fields and excel at them and similarly, females can create wonders in STEM and technologically supported fields.
What Can You As An Individual Do Improvise The Number Of Women In Technology?
If you ever come across an opportunity that you feel can be a breakthrough for your female friend, make sure to share it!
You can also take out a little time from your busy schedule and try to coach the daughters of your housemaids.
While in urban households the situation is still comparatively better but girls whose parents were unable to get proper educational do not completely understand the gravity of being associated with STEM fields and technology.
There are times when you, irrespective of your gender can help the underrepresented bloom in the field of technology. The key to success is awareness and awareness comes with exploration and being in the company of right- and like-minded individuals.
By Pooja Gera