When Girls Speak Geek

05 · 21 · 09

By @kcwebgirl

For many years now I have made technology the focus of my career. I get a euphoric high from discovering new platforms for communicating with the masses and new ways to connect women to technology. The introduction of Web 2.0 was a godsend for women and girls in general. Why? Because the major focus is community communication and let’s face it, women and girls are more community oriented. Whether positive or negative, we like to interact with each other in a community. Social networking was pretty much a tech match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned.

Despite the favorable climate of social networking and other web 2.0 technologies, women still remain invisible at most of the companies that create and maintain these technologies. Women make up the majority of users of social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, and yet research conducted by The Boston Club, Bentley University and the human resources firm Mercer showed that in 2008 women held 11 percent of the 837 board seats and 9.2 percent of the executive officer jobs in those large companies. This number fell from 2007 levels. How do we translate the participation in technology to careers in technology for women and girls? My answer might be a little oversimplified but I believe women currently in the industry need to speak geek. The male geek has successfully become “mainstream” by doing exactly that — proudly speaking geek.

Think about it; male geeks are all the rage as they enjoy mainstream recognition. Most people recognize the names of Steve Jobs, Tom Anderson, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates but how many know Ada Lovelace, Grace Hooper, Mary Allen Wilkes, Anita Borg, Mary Lou Jepsen or Marissa Mayer? It is time for girl geeks to be heard. We do exist proudly in a male dominated industry. We do create the technologies that keep people connected. And we do speak geek without shame! If girl geeks get more vocal about the opportunities and benefits of careers in technology I firmly believe that we will see a change in the number of girls who speak geek in the future.

I found a great list on Wikipedia of Women in Technology that I thought I would share to help you discover more successful women who speak geek!

Thanks Wikipedia!

* 1842: Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), analyst of Charles Babbage’s analytical engine and described as the “first computer programmer”

* 1942: Hedy Lamarr (1913–2000), Hollywood diva and co-inventor of an early form of spread-spectrum broadcasting

* 1943: WREN Colossus operators, during WW2 at Bletchley Park

* 1946: Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Fran Bilas, Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, and Ruth Lichterman, original programmers of the ENIAC

* 1949: Grace Hopper (1906–1992), first programmer for the Mark I Calculator, known as the “Mother of COBOL”

* 1962: Jean E. Sammet (1928), mathematician and computer scientist; developed FORMAC programming language. Was the first to write extensively about history and categorization of programming languages (1969).

* 1965: Mary Allen Wilkes computer programmer; First person to use a computer in a private home and the first developer of an operating system (LAP) for the first minicomputer (LINC)

* 1968: Barbara H. Liskov (1939), first American female Doctorate of Computer Science (1968)

* 1972: Karen Spärck Jones (1935–2007), pioneer of information retrieval and natural language processing

* 1983: Adele Goldberg (1945), one of the designers and developers of the Smalltalk language

* 1984: Roberta Williams (1953), pioneering work in graphical adventure games for personal computers, particularly the King’s Quest series.

* 1984: Susan Kare (1954), created the icons and many of the interface elements for the original Apple Macintosh in the 1980s, was an original employee of NeXT, working as the Creative Director.

* 1985: Radia Perlman (1951) invented the Spanning Tree Protocol, has done extensive and innovative research, particularly on encryption and networking. USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award 2007, among numerous others.

* 1985: Irma Wyman (~1927), first Honeywell CIO

* 1986: Hannah Smith “Girlie tipster” for CRASH (magazine)

* 1988: Eva Tardos (1957), recipient of the Fulkerson Prize for her research on design and analysis of algorithms

* 1993: Shafi Goldwasser (1958), theoretical computer scientist, two-time recipient of the Gödel Prize for research on complexity theory, cryptography and computational number theory, and the invention of zero-knowledge proofs

* 1993: Barbara Liskov together with Jeannette Wing develops the Liskov substitution principle

* 1994: Sally Floyd (~1953), most renowned for her work on Transmission Control Protocol

* 1996: Xiaoyuan Tu (1967), first female recipient of the ACM’s Doctoral Dissertation Award.

* 1997: Anita Borg (1949–2003), the founding director of the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT)

* 2004: Jeri Ellsworth (1974), self-taught computer chip designer and creator of the C64 Direct-to-TV

* 2005: Mary Lou Jepsen (1965), Founder and chief technology officer of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC)

* 2006: Frances E. Allen (1932), first female recipient of the ACM’s Turing Award

One comment

  1. Great article – That list is definitely going up on the cube wall for inspiration and affirmation of girl geekdom!

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