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Women in computing

Women in computing

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Global concerns about current and future roles of women in computing
Computing
Computing is usually defined as the activity of using and improving computer hardware and software. It is the computer-specific part of information technology...

occupations gained more importance with the emerging information age
Information Age
The Information Age, also commonly known as the Computer Age or Digital Age, is an idea that the current age will be characterized by the ability of individuals to transfer information freely, and to have instant access to knowledge that would have been difficult or impossible to find previously...

. These concerns motivated public policy
Public policy
Public policy as government action is generally the principled guide to action taken by the administrative or executive branches of the state with regard to a class of issues in a manner consistent with law and institutional customs. In general, the foundation is the pertinent national and...

 debates addressing gender equality
Gender equality
Gender equality is the goal of the equality of the genders, stemming from a belief in the injustice of myriad forms of gender inequality.- Concept :...

 as computer applications exerted increasing influence in society. This dialog helped to expand information technology innovations and to reduce the unintended consequence
Unintended consequence
In the social sciences, unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the outcomes intended by a purposeful action. The concept has long existed but was named and popularised in the 20th century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton...

s of perceived sexism
Sexism
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

.

The gender gap


In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the number of women represented in undergraduate computer science education and the white-collar information technology
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 workforce peaked in the mid-1980s. Particularly in computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, there has been a dramatic drop in women earning bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

s. Recent figures from the Computing Research Association
Computing Research Association
The Computing Research Association is an association of more than 220 North American academic departments of computer science, computer engineering, and related fields; laboratories and centers in industry, government, and academia engaging in basic computing research; and affiliated professional...

 Taulbee Survey indicate that the number recently fell below 12%, from nearly 40% in the mid 80s. A similar situation is observed in Canada, where the decline of women in computer science is apparent.

Research has shown that some aspects about computing may discourage women. One of the biggest turn-offs is the "geek factor". High school girls are repelled by the image of Computer Scientists sit in a cubicle writing code for the duration of their workday. The "geek factor" affects both male and female high school students, but it seems to have more of a negative effect on the female students.

Attracting women into computer science


Professor De Palma from Gonzaga University
Gonzaga University
Gonzaga University is a private Roman Catholic university located in Spokane, Washington, United States. Founded in 1887 by the Society of Jesus, it is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and is named after the young Jesuit saint, Aloysius Gonzaga...

 believes that more women can be attracted into the study of computer science by making it more like mathematics. He suggests five ways to improve the attraction of computer science to women:
  1. Teach any girl with an aptitude for symbol manipulation how to program.
  2. When teaching women how to program, keep things as close to pure logic as possible. Minimize reliance on other clumsy software packages
    Software package (installation)
    In package management systems, which are commonly used with Linux-based operating systems, a package is a specific piece of software which the system can install and uninstall....

    , fancy graphical interfaces, and powerful IDEs
    Integrated development environment
    An integrated development environment is a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development...

    .
  3. Teach computing without microcomputer
    Microcomputer
    A microcomputer is a computer with a microprocessor as its central processing unit. They are physically small compared to mainframe and minicomputers...

    s. Microcomputers tend to attract tinkering men more than women.
  4. Keep the length of programming assignments as short as possible, at least in the early stages. One aspect of the mathematics discipline is that assignment problems are hard enough to make a person think for a while, but are not hard enough to get them frustrated and lose interest in the problem.
  5. Treat a programming language as the notational system and avoid adopting new languages.


Since the number of female college entrants expressing interest in majoring in computer science has only worsened in the past decade to pre-1980's levels , it is possible that the aforementioned instructional caveats have been ineffective, or were not widely implemented. A research study was initialized by Allan Fisher, then Associate Dean for Undergraduate Computer Science Education at Carnegie Mellon University, and Jane Margolis, a social scientist and expert in gender equity in education, into the nature of this problem. The main issues discovered in interesting and retaining women in computer science were feelings of an experience gap, confidence doubts, interest in curriculum and pedagogy, and peer culture. Proactive and positive exposures to early computer experiences, such as The Alice Project , founded by the late Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch
Randolph Frederick "Randy" Pausch was an American professor of computer science and human-computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania....

 at Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States....

 have been found to be considerably more effective in terms of retention and creation of enthusiasm for women who may later consider entering the field.

Universities across North America are changing their computer science programs to make them more appealing to women. Companies like IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

 also encourage young women to become interested in engineering, technology and science. IBM offers EX.I.T.E. (EXploring Interests in Technology and Engineering) camps for young women from the ages of 11 to 13.

Additionally, attempts are being made to make the efforts of female computer scientists more visible through events such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women conference series which allows women in the field to meet, collaborate and present their work.

In the United Kingdom, the British Computer Society
British Computer Society
The British Computer Society, is a professional body and a learned society that represents those working in Information Technology in the United Kingdom and internationally...

 (BCS) and other organisations have groups which promote the cause of women in computing, such as BCSWomen
BCSWomen
BCSWomen is a Specialist Group of the British Computer Society, with the aim of supporting women working and considering a career in Information Technology....

, founded by Sue Black
Sue Black (computer scientist)
Dr Sue Black FBCS FRSA is an English computer scientist. She is a Senior Research Associate at University College London, England. Previously she was Head of the Department of Information and Software Systems at the University of Westminster, London. Sue Black founded BCSWomen, a Specialist Group...

, and the BCS Women's Forum.

In Ontario, Canada, the Gr8 Designs for Gr8 Girls
Gr8 Designs for Gr8 Girls
Gr8 Designs for Gr8 Girls is a program founded by Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto Professor Michelle Craig to support the women in computing initiative. Gr8 Designs offers students the opportunity to learn about computer science with exciting and creative activities...

 program was founded to develop grade 8 girls' interest in computer science.

Gender theory and women in computing


A 2008 book titled Gender and Information Technology: Moving Beyond Access to Co-Create Global Partnership uses Riane Eisler
Riane Eisler
Riane Tennenhaus Eisler is an Austrian-born American scholar, writer, and social activist. Born in Vienna ca. 1937, her familyfled from the Nazis to Cuba when she was a child; she later emigrated to the United States. She has degrees in...

's cultural transformation theory to offer an interdisciplinary, social systems perspective on issues of access to technology.(Eisler
Eisler
Eisler is a German surname that may refer to:* Barry Eisler, American novelist* Brenda Eisler, Canadian long jumper* Georg Eisler, Austrian painter* Gerhart Eisler, German journalist and politician* Hanns Eisler, German composer...

 is best known for her international best seller The Chalice and the Blade Our History, Our Future). Gender and Information Technology explores how shifting from dominator towards partnership systems—as reflected in four primary social institutions (communication, media, education, and business)--might help us move beyond the simplistic notion of access to co-create a real digital revolution worldwide.

A 2000 book titled Athena Unbound provides a life-course analysis (based on interviews and surveys) of women in the sciences from an early childhood interest, through university, to graduate school and finally into the academic workplace. The thesis of this book is that "women face a special series of gender related barriers to entry and success in scientific careers that persist, despite recent advances".

International perspective


The western countries seem to have a consensus regarding women in computing and exhibit very similar numbers.

A survey, conducted by SWIFT ("Supporting Women in Information Technology") based out of Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, yields interesting results as well. The survey had 7,411 participants who were asked questions underlying their career choices. Females tend to believe that they lack the skill set needed to be successful in the field of Computing. This provides a strong base for a positive correlation between perceived ability and career choice.

A project based out of Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, "Strategies of Inclusion: Gender and the Information Society" (SIGIS) released its findings based on research conducted in 48 separate case studies all over Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. The findings focus on recruiting as well as retention techniques for women already studying in the field. These techniques range from the introduction of role models and pre-visiting institutions to advertisement campaigns and allocation quotas which will make the Computing field appear more gender neutral. Educating reforms which will increase the quality of the educating body and technological facilities are also suggested . A brief overview of reasons to close the gender gap in the Computing industry includes:
  1. Justice Argument - women lacking opportunities to influence society through an ever-growing technological medium
  2. Equal Opportunity Argument - missing out on rights and benefits offered by the ICT
    Information and communication technologies
    Information and communications technology or information and communication technology, usually abbreviated as ICT, is often used as an extended synonym for information technology , but is usually a more general term that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of...

  3. Resource Argument - social losses that accrue due to women's talents and experiences not being used
  4. Labour Market Argument - explores the possibility of women's future role as a supplier of educated labour.


The situation in Asian countries differs greatly. Research suggests that Malaysia has a much more equal split that varies around the half-way mark. It is suggested that this may be due to the fact that Malaysian women view careers in IT
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 as a means of employment rather than a status symbol. A job in the Computing industry also implies a safe work environment. Strong belief by the previous generation that IT
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 will be a flourishing sector with many job opportunities caused parents to entice their children to partake in a Computing career, no matter the gender .

In India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, the case is just the opposite to that in the western countries.
There is a great demand for computer science, but not enough reputed colleges that
offer quality education (this is changing, however). Since the IT
Information technology
Information technology is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications...

 industry has been
responsible for large-scale employment, there is a higher rate of women taking up education
and careers in engineering, especially computer engineering. Computer engineering is a
relatively clean field in the sense that it does not involve careers in factories.
Most careers are in programming, which can be easily done from home too.
Computer science graduates from prestigious universities are also highly respected.
Parents also significantly affect choices as they overwhelmingly promote a career
in computer engineering. Even then, competition is extremely tough, and the few
women who do get into top colleges are highly respected.

Timeline of women in computing

  • 1842: Ada Lovelace
    Ada Lovelace
    Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace , born Augusta Ada Byron, was an English writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine...

     (1815–1852), analyst of Charles Babbage
    Charles Babbage
    Charles Babbage, FRS was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer...

    's analytical engine
    Analytical engine
    The Analytical Engine was a proposed mechanical general-purpose computer designed by English mathematician Charles Babbage. It was first described in 1837 as the successor to Babbage's difference engine, a design for a mechanical calculator...

     and described as the "first computer programmer"
  • 1893: Henrietta Swan Leavitt
    Henrietta Swan Leavitt
    Henrietta Swan Leavitt was an American astronomer. A graduate of Radcliffe College, Leavitt went to work in 1893 at the Harvard College Observatory in a menial capacity as a "computer", assigned to count images on photographic plates...

     joins the Harvard computers, a group of women engaged in the production of astronomical data at Harvard; she is instrumental in discovery of the cepheid variable
    Cepheid variable
    A Cepheid is a member of a class of very luminous variable stars. The strong direct relationship between a Cepheid variable's luminosity and pulsation period, secures for Cepheids their status as important standard candles for establishing the Galactic and extragalactic distance scales.Cepheid...

     stars, which were evidence for the expansion of the universe.
  • 1926: Grete Hermann
    Grete Hermann
    Grete 'Hermann was a German mathematician and philosopher. She studied mathematics at Göttingen under Emmy Noether, where she achieved her Ph.D. in 1926...

     publishes the foundational paper for computerized algebra
    Computer algebra system
    A computer algebra system is a software program that facilitates symbolic mathematics. The core functionality of a CAS is manipulation of mathematical expressions in symbolic form.-Symbolic manipulations:...

  • 1942: Hedy Lamarr
    Hedy Lamarr
    Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress celebrated for her great beauty who was a major contract star of MGM's "Golden Age".Lamarr also co-invented – with composer George Antheil – an early technique for spread spectrum communications and frequency hopping, necessary to wireless...

     (1913–2000), Hollywood diva and co-inventor of an early form of spread-spectrum broadcasting
  • 1943: WREN Colossus operators
    Colossus computer
    Not to be confused with the fictional computer of the same name in the movie Colossus: The Forbin Project.Colossus was the world's first electronic, digital, programmable computer. Colossus and its successors were used by British codebreakers to help read encrypted German messages during World War II...

    , during WW2
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     at Bletchley Park
    Bletchley Park
    Bletchley Park is an estate located in the town of Bletchley, in Buckinghamshire, England, which currently houses the National Museum of Computing...

  • 1946: Betty Jennings
    Jean Bartik
    Jean Bartik was one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer.She was born Betty Jean Jennings in Gentry County, Missouri, in 1924 and attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, majoring in mathematics. In 1945, she was hired by the University of Pennsylvania to work for Army...

    , Betty Snyder
    Betty Holberton
    Frances Elizabeth "Betty" Holberton was one of the six original programmers of ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer.-Early life and education:...

    , Fran Bilas
    Frances Spence
    Frances Spence was one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer.She was born Frances Bilas in Philadelphia in 1922. She attended Temple University but then was awarded a scholarship to Chestnut Hill College. She majored in mathematics with a minor in physics and graduated in 1942...

    , Kay McNulty
    Kathleen Antonelli
    Kathleen "Kay" McNulty Mauchly Antonelli was one of the six original programmers of the ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic digital computer.-Early life and education:...

    , Marlyn Wescoff
    Marlyn Meltzer
    Marlyn Meltzer was one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer.She was born Marlyn Wescoff and graduated from Temple University in 1942. She was hired by the Moore School of Engineering later that year to perform weather calculations, mainly because she knew how to operate an adding...

    , and Ruth Lichterman
    Ruth Teitelbaum
    Ruth Teitelbaum was one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer.Teitelbaum graduated from Hunter College with a B.Sc. in Mathematics...

    , original programmers of the ENIAC
    ENIAC
    ENIAC was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems....

  • 1949: Grace Hopper
    Grace Hopper
    Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper was an American computer scientist and United States Navy officer. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language...

     (1906–1992), United States Navy
    United States Navy
    The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

     officer and first programmer of the Harvard Mark I
    Harvard Mark I
    The IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator , called the Mark I by Harvard University, was an electro-mechanical computer....

    , known as the "Mother of COBOL
    COBOL
    COBOL is one of the oldest programming languages. Its name is an acronym for COmmon Business-Oriented Language, defining its primary domain in business, finance, and administrative systems for companies and governments....

    ". Developed the first ever compiler
    Compiler
    A compiler is a computer program that transforms source code written in a programming language into another computer language...

     for an electronic computer known as A-0.
  • 1961: Dana Ulery
    Dana Ulery
    Dr. Dana Ulery is an American computer scientist and pioneer in scientific computing applications. She began her career in 1961 as the first woman engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory , designing and developing algorithms to model NASA’s Deep Space Network capabilities and automating...

     (1938-), computer scientist; first female engineer at Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

    , developing real-time tracking systems using a North American Aviation Recomp II, 40-bit word size computer.
  • 1962: Jean E. Sammet
    Jean E. Sammet
    Jean E. Sammet is an American computer scientist who developed the FORMAC programming language in 1962.She received her B.A. in Math from Mount Holyoke College in 1948 and her M.A. in Math from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1949...

     (1928-), mathematician and computer scientist; developed FORMAC programming language
    FORMAC programming language
    FORMAC, acronym of FORmula MAnipulation Compiler, is an extension of FORTRAN. It was developed by Jean E. Sammet.The additional capabilities of FORMAC permit direct computation, manipulation, and use of functions of advanced mathematics which can only be done indirectly and approximately in...

    . Was the first to write extensively about history and categorisation of programming languages (1969).
  • 1965: Mary Allen Wilkes
    Mary Allen Wilkes
    Mary Allen Wilkes is a former computer programmer and hardware engineer, most known for her work with the LINC computer. She left computer science and became an attorney. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, class of 1959....

     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
    Minicomputer
    A minicomputer is a class of multi-user computers that lies in the middle range of the computing spectrum, in between the largest multi-user systems and the smallest single-user systems...

     (LINC
    LINC
    The LINC was a 12-bit, 2048-word computer. The LINC can be considered the first minicomputer and a forerunner to the personal computer....

    )
  • 1965: Sister Mary Kenneth Keller (1914? - 1985) first American female Doctorate of Computer Science (1965)
  • 1972: Karen Spärck Jones
    Karen Spärck Jones
    Karen Spärck Jones FBA was a British computer scientist.Karen Spärck Jones was born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England. Her father was Owen Jones, a lecturer in chemistry, and her mother was Ida Spärck, a Norwegian who moved to Britain during World War II...

     (1935–2007), pioneer of information retrieval and natural language processing
  • 1973: Lynn Conway
    Lynn Conway
    Lynn Conway is an American computer scientist, electrical engineer, inventor, trans woman, and activist for the transgender community....

     (1938-), led the "LSI Systems" group; co-authored Introduction to VLSI Systems
  • 1978: Sophie Wilson
    Sophie Wilson
    Sophie Wilson is a British computer scientist. She is known for designing the Acorn Micro-Computer, the first of a long line of computers sold by Acorn Computers Ltd, as well as the instruction set of the highly successful ARM processor.- Life and career :...

     (?), designed the Acorn Microcomputer
    Acorn System 1
    The Acorn System 1, initially called the Acorn Microcomputer , was an early 8-bit microcomputer for hobbyists, based on the MOS 6502 CPU, and produced by British company Acorn Computers from 1979....

    .
  • 1979: Carol Shaw
    Carol Shaw (video game designer)
    Originally an Atari employee, Carol Shaw is said to be the first female video game designer . Later she joined Activision, where she programmed her best known game, River Raid...

     (?), game designer and programmer for Atari Corp. and Activision
    Activision
    Activision is an American publisher, majority owned by French conglomerate Vivendi SA. Its current CEO is Robert Kotick. It was founded on October 1, 1979 and was the world's first independent developer and distributor of video games for gaming consoles...

  • 1980: Carla Meninsky
    Carla Meninsky
    Carla Meninsky was a video game designer during the early years of the Atari 2600 video game console.Along with Carol Shaw , Meninsky was one of two female engineers at Atari to develop video game cartridges released in the early 1980s.Meninsky's Atari 2600 credits include the award-winning 1980...

     (?), game designer and programmer for Atari 2600
    Atari 2600
    The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in October 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in...

     games Dodge 'Em
    Dodge 'Em
    Dodge 'Em is a 1980 Atari 2600 video game, a driving game based on a single screen of four concentric roadways. The player controls one car and has to drive counter-clockwise, avoiding computer-controlled cars whose sole aim is to produce a head-on collision...

    and Warlords
  • 1983: Adele Goldberg
    Adele Goldberg (computer scientist)
    Adele Goldberg is a computer scientist who participated in the development of the programming language Smalltalk-80 and various concepts related to object oriented programming while a researcher at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, PARC, in the 1970s.Goldberg began working at PARC in 1973, and...

     (1945-), one of the designers and developers of the Smalltalk
    Smalltalk
    Smalltalk is an object-oriented, dynamically typed, reflective programming language. Smalltalk was created as the language to underpin the "new world" of computing exemplified by "human–computer symbiosis." It was designed and created in part for educational use, more so for constructionist...

     language
  • 1984: Roberta Williams
    Roberta Williams
    Roberta Williams is an American video game designer. She is most famous for her pioneering work in graphical adventure games, particularly the King's Quest series.-Career:...

     (1953-), pioneering work in graphical adventure games for personal computers, particularly the King's Quest
    King's Quest
    King's Quest is an adventure game series created by the American software company Sierra Entertainment. It is widely considered a classic series from the golden era of adventure games. Following the success of its first installment, the series was primarily responsible for building the reputation...

     series.
  • 1984: Susan Kare
    Susan Kare
    Susan Kare is an artist and graphic designer who created many of the interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. She was also one of the original employees of NeXT , working as the Creative Director.-Background:Kare was born in Ithaca, New York and is the sister of aerospace engineer...

     (1954-), created the icons and many of the interface elements for the original Apple Macintosh in the 1980s, was an original employee of NeXT
    NeXT
    Next, Inc. was an American computer company headquartered in Redwood City, California, that developed and manufactured a series of computer workstations intended for the higher education and business markets...

    , working as the Creative Director.
  • 1985: Radia Perlman
    Radia Perlman
    Radia Joy Perlman is a software designer and network engineer sometimes referred to as the "Mother of the Internet." She is most famous for her invention of the spanning-tree protocol , which is fundamental to the operation of network bridges, while working for Digital Equipment Corporation...

     (1951-), invented the Spanning Tree Protocol
    Spanning tree protocol
    The Spanning Tree Protocol is a network protocol that ensures a loop-free topology for any bridged Ethernet local area network. The basic function of STP is to prevent bridge loops and ensuing broadcast radiation...

    . Has done extensive and innovative research, particularly on encryption and networking. USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award 2007, among numerous others.
  • 1985: Irma Wyman
    Irma Wyman
    Irma M. Wyman was an early computer engineer and the first woman to become vice president of Honeywell, Inc. She was a systems thinking tutor and was the first female CIO of Honeywell.-Academic life:...

     (~1927-), first Honeywell
    Honeywell
    Honeywell International, Inc. is a major conglomerate company that produces a variety of consumer products, engineering services, and aerospace systems for a wide variety of customers, from private consumers to major corporations and governments....

     CIO
    Chief information officer
    Chief information officer , or information technology director, is a job title commonly given to the most senior executive in an enterprise responsible for the information technology and computer systems that support enterprise goals...

  • 1986: Hannah Smith "Girlie tipster" for CRASH (magazine)
    CRASH (magazine)
    Crash was a magazine dedicated to the ZX Spectrum home computer. It was published from 1984 to 1991 by Newsfield Publications Ltd until their liquidation, and then until 1992 by Europress.-Development:...

  • 1988: Éva Tardos
    Éva Tardos
    Éva Tardos is a Hungarian mathematician, winner of the Fulkerson Prize , and professor of Computer Science at Cornell University.Research Interests:...

     (1957-), recipient of the Fulkerson Prize
    Fulkerson Prize
    The Fulkerson Prize for outstanding papers in the area of discrete mathematics is sponsored jointly by the Mathematical Programming Society and the American Mathematical Society . Up to three awards of $1500 each are presented at each International Symposium of the MPS...

     for her research on design and analysis of algorithms
    Analysis of algorithms
    To analyze an algorithm is to determine the amount of resources necessary to execute it. Most algorithms are designed to work with inputs of arbitrary length...

  • 1993: Shafi Goldwasser
    Shafi Goldwasser
    Shafrira Goldwasser is the RSA Professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and a professor of mathematical sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.-Biography:...

     (1958-), theoretical computer scientist, two-time recipient of the Gödel Prize
    Gödel Prize
    The Gödel Prize is a prize for outstanding papers in theoretical computer science, named after Kurt Gödel and awarded jointly by the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science and the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory .The...

     for research on complexity theory, cryptography and computational number theory, and the invention of zero-knowledge proofs
  • 1993: Barbara Liskov
    Barbara Liskov
    Barbara Liskov is a computer scientist. She is currently the Ford Professor of Engineering in the MIT School of Engineering's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department and an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.-Life and career:She earned her BA in...

     together with Jeannette Wing
    Jeannette Wing
    Jeannette Marie Wing is a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, and assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the NSF....

     develops the Liskov substitution principle
    Liskov substitution principle
    Substitutability is a principle in object-oriented programming. It states that, in a computer program, if S is a subtype of T, then objects of type T may be replaced with objects of type S without altering any of the desirable properties of that program...

  • 1994: Sally Floyd
    Sally Floyd (computer scientist)
    Sally Floyd was a computer scientist at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California. She retired in 2009. She is best known for her work on Internet congestion control...

     (~1953-), most renowned for her work on Transmission Control Protocol
    Transmission Control Protocol
    The Transmission Control Protocol is one of the core protocols of the Internet Protocol Suite. TCP is one of the two original components of the suite, complementing the Internet Protocol , and therefore the entire suite is commonly referred to as TCP/IP...

  • 1996: Xiaoyuan Tu (1967-), first female recipient of the ACM's Doctoral Dissertation Award.
  • 1997: Anita Borg
    Anita Borg
    Anita Borg was an American computer scientist. She founded the Institute for Women and Technology and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. She was born Anita Borg Naffz in Chicago, Illinois...

     (1949–2003), the founding director of the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT)
  • 1999: Marissa Mayer
    Marissa Mayer
    Marissa Ann Mayer is Vice President of Location and Local Services at the search engine company Google. She has become one of the public faces of Google, providing a number of press interviews and appearing at events frequently to speak on behalf of the company.-Education and career :After...

     (1975-), the first female engineer at Google hired, later named Vice President of Search Product and User Experience.
  • 2001: Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang
    Audrey Tang is a Taiwanese free software programmer, who has been described as one of the "ten greats of Taiwanese computing."-Biography:...

     (1981-), initiator and leader of the Pugs
    Pugs
    Pugs is a compiler and interpreter for the Perl 6 programming language, started on February 1, 2005 by Audrey Tang.Pugs development is now placed on hiatus, with most Perl 6 implementation efforts now taking place on Rakudo; however, its source repository is still used for storing the official Perl...

     project
  • 2004: Jeri Ellsworth
    Jeri Ellsworth
    Jeri Ellsworth is an American entrepreneur and self-taught computer chip designer. She is best known for creating a Commodore 64 emulator within a joystick, in 2004, called Commodore 30-in-1 Direct to TV...

     (1974-), self-taught computer chip designer and creator of the C64 Direct-to-TV
    C64 Direct-to-TV
    The C64 Direct-to-TV, called C64DTV for short, is a single-chip implementation of the Commodore 64 computer, contained in a joystick with 30 built-in games. The design is similar to the Atari Classics 10-in-1 TV Game...

  • 2005: Mary Lou Jepsen
    Mary Lou Jepsen
    Mary Lou Jepsen is founder and CEO of Pixel Qi, a manufacturer of low-cost, low-power LCD screens for laptops. She was the first chief technology officer of One Laptop per Child .- Early life and education :...

     (1965-), Founder and chief technology officer of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC); founder of Pixel Qi.
  • 2006: Frances E. Allen
    Frances E. Allen
    Frances Elizabeth "Fran" Allen is an American computer scientist and pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers. Her achievements include seminal work in compilers, code optimization, and parallelization...

     (1932-), first female recipient of the ACM's Turing Award
    Turing Award
    The Turing Award, in full The ACM A.M. Turing Award, is an annual award given by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the...

  • 2008: Barbara H. Liskov (1939-), winner of the Turing prize 2008

Organizations for women in computing

  • Ada Initiative
    Ada Initiative
    The Ada Initiative is a non-profit organization that seeks to increase women's participation in the free culture movement, open source technology and culture...

  • Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology
    Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology
    The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology is a nonprofit organization founded by computer scientist Anita Borg. The institute’s primary aim is to recruit, retain, and advance women in technology. The institute’s most prominent program is the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing...

    , group for support of women, runs the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
    Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing
    The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. It is the world’s largest gathering of women in computing. The Grace Hopper Celebration is presented by the Anita Borg Institute...

     yearly conference
  • Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Committee on Women
  • Association for Women in Computing
  • AWISE - Australian Women in IT and Science entity
  • APC WNSP - Association for Progressive Communications, Women's Networking Support Programme
  • CodeChix, face-to-face group for female coders in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • BCSWomen
    BCSWomen
    BCSWomen is a Specialist Group of the British Computer Society, with the aim of supporting women working and considering a career in Information Technology....

    , a women-only Specialist Group of the British Computer Society
    British Computer Society
    The British Computer Society, is a professional body and a learned society that represents those working in Information Technology in the United Kingdom and internationally...

  • CPSR
    Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
    Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is a global organization promoting the responsible use of computer technology. in 1983 . It educates policymakers and the public on a wide range of issues...

     Women in Computing
  • Computing Research Association
    Computing Research Association
    The Computing Research Association is an association of more than 220 North American academic departments of computer science, computer engineering, and related fields; laboratories and centers in industry, government, and academia engaging in basic computing research; and affiliated professional...

     Committee on the Status of Women in Computing research
  • Debian Women
  • DevChix, group for female developers/programmers
  • DrupalChix, group to support women in the Drupal
    Drupal
    Drupal is a free and open-source content management system and content management framework written in PHP and distributed under the GNU General Public License. It is used as a back-end system for at least 1.5% of all websites worldwide ranging from personal blogs to corporate, political, and...

     open source community
  • Feminist Approach to Technology
  • GeekFeminism.org, group running a blog, wiki, and IRC channel for women in science, tech, and computing, especially FLOSS
    Floss
    Floss may refer to:* Dental floss, used to clean teeth* Embroidery thread, machine or hand-spun yarn for embroidery* Fairy floss or candyfloss, alternative names for cotton candy* Rousong, i.e. meat floss-Computing:...

  • Girl Geek Dinners
    Girl Geek Dinners
    Girl Geek Dinners is an informal organization that promotes the presence of women in the Information technology industry. It has 64 established chapters in 23 countries. It was founded in London in August 2005 by Sarah Blow who was tired of being the only woman at technical events. Chapters...

     - an International group for women of all ages
  • IEEE Women in Engineering (WIE)
  • LinuxChix
    LinuxChix
    LinuxChix is a women-oriented Linux community. It is designed to provide both technical and social support for women Linux users, although men are encouraged to help and contribute...

    , a women-oriented community in the open source
    Open source
    The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology...

     movement
  • phpwomen, group to support women programming in PHP
  • National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), USA
  • Ubuntu Women
  • Women in IT Management (WITM) - Ryerson University, Canada

See also

  • Women in science
    Women in science
    Women have made contributions and sacrifices to science from the earliest times. Like many men in science, women have received little or no distinction for their work during their lifetimes. Science is generally and historically a male-dominated field, and evidence suggests that this is due to...

  • Women, girls and information technology
    Women, girls and information technology
    Women have been involved in computers since computers were first envisioned. They are present in all facets of computing and information technology. Despite this, their presence is comparatively small in these fields; see statistics below....

  • Women in the Information Age
    Women in the information age
    Women in the Information Age is a research project located at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The project is focused on women's involvement in technology and in uncovering reasons behind the lack of women in the field. WITIA is headed by Dr. Jane Fountain. The project was previously...

  • Women in the workforce
    Women in the workforce
    Until modern industrialized times, legal and cultural practices, combined with the inertia of longstanding religious and educational traditions, had restricted women's entry and participation in the workforce. Economic dependency upon men, and consequently the poor socio-economic status of women...


Further reading


Thomas J. Misa, ed. Gender Codes: Why Women Are Leaving Computing (Wiley/IEEE Computer Society Press, 2010). ISBN 978-0-470-59719-4

External links



Women in Information Technology
  • Doing "IT" Around the World - Aug 11th, profiled the lives and technology loves of 36 women across the globe, discovering what they do, how they contribute to our world and their shared passion for Innovation Technology.
  • Doing "IT" Around the World Albums - See women from all over the world in the IT field in this global album presentation brought to you by: "Thoughtware Australia"