These stories are neither comprehensive
biographies, nor representative of the entirety of women's contributions
to the development of technology and modern computing. But they're
super-interesting, so I wanted to share them.
As well as being interesting stories in themselves, the main
reason I want to spotlight these women is because I know that I was lucky. I
grew up without it even occurring to me there might be "women's jobs"
and "men's jobs". Just … no … errrr … what?!
In large part, that's thanks to my mum. She was the first woman
to work in ICI's paint lab. Oooh, science job! (This was in the '70s though, so she was paid half as much as her male counterparts.)
We've come a long way since then. But there's more we can all do to make work more equitable. Part of that, I think, is to showcase role models – if you can see it, you can be it – and to celebrate and share the professional achievements of all kinds of people. So, this is a tiny contribution towards that.
Katie Parry (she/her)
You might also like this insightful talk about the huge role women've played in the development of tech and modern computing.
I was especially interested to learn about the 'ENIAC Six' – Betty Holberton, Jean Jennings Bartik, Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Ruth Lichterman, and Frances Bilas Spence.
In 1943 these highly trained mathematicians were recruited to
program the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, aka the
This was way before programming languages existed so, having been given wiring and logic diagrams of the machine to work from, they were tasked with figuring it out. Which they did. They got no recognition when the machine was unveiled, but that doesn't lessen their achievements which are worth both remembering – and celebrating!
Useful links 💪
Girls Who Code – an international non-profit organisation working to close the gender gap in technology by teaching girls computer science, bravery, and sisterhood
Black Code Her – remote bootcamp training in web development for Black women
Code First Girls – the largest provider of free coding courses for women in the UK
STEMettes – an award-winning UK-based social enterprise working to inspire and support young women and non-binary people in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths careers
Coding Black Females – a non-profit organisation providing opportunities for Black female developers to develop themselves, meet familiar faces, network, receive support and build relationships
Women Who Code – an international network, inspiring women to excel in technology careers
Ada's List – the place for professional women and non-binary people who work in the tech sector to connect, conspire, and take a stand
Thanks to former Supercooler and current CodeYourFuture Director of Education, Sally McGrath, for helping compile this list.