Originally published at: http://mycroft.ai/blog/iwd2018/
Happy International Women’s Day!
At Mycroft, we recognize and acknowledge the contribution of women to field of computing, technology and emerging fields such as machine learning, speech recognition and artificial intelligence.
Historically, women have played a critical role in advancing the field of computer science.
The first computer programmer was a woman by the name of Ada Lovelace. She published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by Charles Babbage’s general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Today, she lends her name to several women-in-technology initiatives such as Ada Lovelace Day.
We have all heard the term ‘computer bug’ but did you know that Grace Hopper, one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I, was the one who coined that phrase? Her early work influenced the computer language COBOL, which is still being used in business today (don’t forget your semicolons!). Grace Hopper’s legacy lives on today, in the Grace Hopper Celebration, an annual conference celebrating, supporting and advocating women in technology.
During the 1930s, Hedy Lamarr was instrumental in developing the technology that would become the frequency-hopping spectrum that is today used in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
During WWII, code-breaking and cryptographic efforts for the Allied Forces centered on Bletchley Park. 60% of the code-breaking staff were women, recruited from various walks of life, playing a role that changed the course of history.
After the Second World War, women were hired as computer programmers because it was considered clerical - and therefore women’s work. One of these women was Margaret Hamilton whose work on the Apollo Guidance System helped the Apollo 11 mission. She is also credited with creating modern software writing as we know it.
African-American women overcame additional significant challenges to make history. Chief among these is NASA scientist, Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated the entry and re-entry orbits of vehicles for the early space program. Mostly by hand. (You can also get the brand new Katherine Johnson Barbie Doll, which was released today).
These are but a few of the women who have changed our lives profoundly.
Here at Mycroft, our women make significant contributions to our mission every day, and we wouldn’t have achieved our level of success without them. Our Co-Founder, Kris Adair, advances entrepreneurial thinking, challenging us to improve our practices. Our VP (International Development), Alyx Horace drives new business initiatives through innovative use of social media and marketing tools, and Kathy Reid, Director of Developer Relations, builds on-ramps for our developer community, and manages our technical documentation, as featured on OpenSource.com. Our diversity makes us stronger.
We encourage you to take some time today to reach out to a female in STEM and thank her for her work. Currently women only make up 20-25% of the tech workforce when they represent 51% of the population. Diverse organizations perform better so it is in our best interest to support those in tech and encourage young women, from all backgrounds, to pursue STEM careers.We are currently hiring at Mycroft and would love to hire more women in STEM. If you know any, send them our way!