Women in technology, where are they?

POSTED BY Jac IN Mobile ON 27 Mar 2010

Women in technology Women in technology, where are they?

We all know the fields of technology, science and mathematics is a male dominated arena, which is a pity because women have a lot to contribute, but not many manage to smash their way through the testosterone-enforced glass ceiling.

However, on the 24th March it was ‘Ada Lovelace day’, a day that celebrates women working in Science and Technology.

If you don’t know who Ada Lovelace was she was a mathematician who worked with Charles Babbage two centuries ago and is credited with writing the first ever computer programme, although the machine she wrote it for never actually got built.

That’s not the point though. She found a way for the computer to calculate a mathematical sequence known as Bernoulli numbers. Have you heard about her?

Suw Charman-Anderson wanted to dedicate a day that would recognise women in technology who might never otherwise be noticed.

She asked people from all over the world to nominate worthy women who were a positive influence or inspiration and Ada Lovelace emerged as the most popular role model, which is why Ms Charman-Anderson called it Ada Lovelace day.

“For years I’ve worked in technology, and every time you see a list of the top people in tech, it’s dominated by men” Suw told the BBC.

“There’s always a discussion about where the women in technology are. I thought, I know loads of women in technology. Why are we asking where they are?”

Ms Charman-Anderson herself chose Tomorrow’s World (a former BBC Science programme) broadcaster Maggie Philbin as her role model.

“Here was a woman who looked very cool and talked about technology articulately – technology was second nature to her” she told BBC News.

“This was someone who understood what was going on and could communicate very clearly.”

Maggie was of course flattered but didn’t think she was anything special.

“When I watched Tomorrow’s World in the 60s and early 70s, it was just blokes. It was fabulous to watch, but at that stage I never imagined that it would have anything to do with me” she said.

“Look at the archives from the 60s – there are so many references to secretaries. That’s what I, as a 10-year-old, was consuming.”

The times are slowly changing and these days there are indeed loads of women in technology, but ask someone on the street for a name that they associate with technology and the chances are it will still be a guy. Unfortunately we’ve still a long way to go and good on you Suw for helping us on the way.

[Image Credit: Marta Manso]

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