Women and Their Role in Information Technology

a woman is operating a computer (mac)

49.6% of the Earth’s population is female and yet somehow their contributions to this world go unrecognized or are overshadowed. Women have contributed to the field of information technology as early as 1843- Ada Lovelace  developed an algorithm for a computer that didn’t exist in her time (1840’s). Some even call her the world’s first computer programmer.

Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace

Women who did Major Contributions for Technology

Susan Kare
Susan Kare

1. Iconographer and typographer – Susan Kare designed many elements of the Mac when she was working along with Steve Jobs – from the command sign, trash sign to the happy mac logo, which greet users when machine is turned on.

Hedy Lamarr

2. Hedy Lamarr was popularly known as the screenstar of 1920s, but she was much more than that. She conceptualized the idea of frequency hopping to send radio signals from different frequency, an early form of encryption technology.  This was originally done to help the Navy remotely control torpedoes.

Grace Hopper

3. Grace Hopper helped in inventing Common Business Oriented Language, COBOL, that is used in programming. Originally programming had only binary code which was difficult. But now since COBOL was invented, more programmers find cobol easy to use.

Dr Erna Hoover

4. Dr Erna Hoover invented a telephony which helped phones perform even under stressful loads and prevent calls from dropping or coming as busy.

barbra liskov
Barbra Liskov

5. Barbra Liskov invented CLU and Argus. Both are programming languages. She also invented Thor, an object-oriented database system

Radia Perman

6. Radia Perman invented the spanning tree protocol which solved many problems with the Ethernet networks and made it available for households. She made building vast Ethernet networks possible by using mesh network layer.

Chieko Asakawa

7. Chieko Asakawa (who is blind since age 14) developed a voice-recognition web browser, which opened up the Internet for the blind.

Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer

8. Marissa Mayer who has US$380 million (25,317,500,000.00 Indian Rupees) worth wealth is the current CEO of Yahoo Inc. She used to work in Google just over a decade. Even though she didn’t do anything particularly major contribution in the technology field, she was one of persons who is responsible for the success of Google who is now one of giants in the tech industry. During her time in Google, she worked as an engineer, designer, product manager and executive. She contributed to many key Google products such as Google Search,Google Images, Google News, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Product Search, Google Toolbar, iGoogle and Gmail. When she started her journey in Google, she was just 24. Now she is married to a guy named “Zachary Bogue” and has one son and twin daughters.

Women can work really efficiently in an IT environment as they are good at multitasking and organizing. IT in general has helped reduce work burden in so many ways and made it easier to communicate with different departments in an organisation. IT has brought about business process automation in most of the businesses.

 Challenges Faced by Women

1. Education: Very few women pursue information technology and communication as a career option and hence drop the subject. The reason ranging from family, age, competition, understanding, to stereotypes and discrimination.

2. Profession: Good and healthy work environment play a major role in employees’ efficiency and productivity. Stereotypes in workplace that underestimate women, brings about a negative impact on the employees’ mind and work life. Also pressure from society to make a family, leaves a damper on her job.

These challenges are not easy to overcome but if we all try to make an effort then we can change the mindset of people and society at large. People should stop presuming things about women and keep an open mind. Stereotyping and prejudice tells more about the attitude of persons doing it than the person who is being judged. Value education for every kid is important so that they can have an open mindset. Good education is solution to all social problems that we face today.


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