If you follow the latest global trends, you have definitely noticed that more and more women start working in the IT field. According to Ycombinator, last year, the number of females in the industry increased by 5%. But all of this began long ago with women researchers who have changed the course of history, inventing new systems and approaches. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at some of the most influential woman in the tech industry as well as find out whether the stereotype that man make better IT-engineers is true.
- Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)
The actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr was a gifted girl since childhood and always showed brilliant results at mathematics. Since her very young years, she was able to travel around the world, as she came from a wealthy family of a banker from Lviv and a pianist from Budapest. Later, Hedy made a sensation in Hollywood thanks to her talent and beauty and changed the world through intelligence.
Together with composer George Antheil, she developed the Secret Communications System technology which formed the basis of modern mobile communication, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. So, maybe, hadn’t it been for her, we wouldn’t be even able to use video dating today!
The inventor is still considered to be one of the most mysterious figures in the history of technological development.
- Karen Spark Jones (1935-2007)
Before studying computer science, Karen had been working as a school teacher. She had always been convinced that women might bring about drastic changes in the development process and open up new perspectives.
She did her best to prove that women have no less sparkling intelligence than their male colleagues, and it is necessary to give them the opportunity to realize their ideas. And not to divide the world into female and male professions.
The inventor’s specialization was language and information processing in Cambridge. Her dissertation on the topic of “Synonymy and semantic classification,” written in 1964, outpaced the scientific achievements of that time significantly.
However, the work was published only twenty years later in an article on artificial intelligence at Edinburgh University. By that time, Karen was already the president of the Association of Computer Linguistics.
- Erna Schneider Hoover (1926)
Erna Schneider Hoover is an American computer designer who was studying philosophy and history at the beginning of her scientific career. In the 50s, she began to work at the Bell Labs Lab. At that time, commuting systems were switched to computer technology.
It was with a great scope that Erna applied her knowledge of logic and feedback theory which she obtained at the Faculty of Philosophy for the programming of control devices for the call center. She suggested using the incoming calls data. So, in 1971, computer electronic monitoring appeared.
Subsequently, the first ever software patent was issued for her invention of the “Feedback Control Monitor for the Program Stored Data Processing System.” Erna became the first woman to head the technical department of Bell Labs.
Its development is used in telecommunication equipment today.
- Judy Malloy (1942)
Writer Judy Malloy found her own approach to writing books. Her novel Uncle Roger became the first online hypertext links project.
Published in 1987, the book was presented as a database for the Apple Ile computer.
The reader could use hyperlinks to switch between fragments in any order. This completely changed the course of information technology. This approach was completely innovative for that time.
Researcher Dean Gigar of the Washington State University Vancouver considered this project to be the first e-book. And The Wall Street Journal in 1989 called Uncle Roger the beginning of future artistic forms.
Judy’s next work, a non-fiction novel with hyperlinks entitled Her Name was Penelope was presented in 1989, at the Richmond Art Center. Her works are still highly demanded and famous in America of today.
Since 2003, the writer was the editor-in-chief of the Women, Art & Technology magazine. And in 2009, she became a finalist at the French Biennale Internationale des Poetes.
- Virginia Rometti (1957)
Virginia Rometti has been working with IBM since 1981, having started her career as a system engineer. In 2012, she took over the post of CEO of the company, becoming the first woman to lead IBM in more than a hundred years from its inception. The peak of her career happened when Ginnie reached the age of 55. Since that time, Virginia Rometti has occupied leading positions in the Fortune’s list of the most influential women in the business and has also been included in similar lists by Forbes and Time.
- Ursula Burns (1958)
The chairman and CEO of Xerox made her career in the company, having started to work in it in 1980 as an engineer. She has been leading Xerox since 2009, becoming the first African American woman to control one of the companies from the Fortune’s 500 largest US companies list. During her management, Xerox has evolved from a company that has been only producing copying equipment to a universal provider of various devices and IT services.
- Susan Voichitsky (1968)
Susan is now the Head of YouTube. She practically came to work at Google in the very first days, even before the company’s official registration, as she had been renting her garage to the founders of the world’s largest search system, and then she became a 16th member of the company. Before she took over her current position at YouTube, Susan had been working as Google’s Senior Vice President in advertising – thanks to her efforts, from year to year, the company has been showing a steady increase in advertising revenue.
- Sheryl Sandberg (1969)
Sheryl has been occupying the position of the Operations Director at Facebook for five years, having come into the company after her 8-year career at Google as Vice President of Global Operations where her main projects were the Google online advertising tools: AdWords and Ad-Sense.
Sheryl has a fairly “thick” block of shares in Facebook, the value of which reached one billion dollars in January last year. Thus, Sheryl Sandberg is also one of the youngest billionaire women who has earned her capital by her own efforts.
What is more, Cheryl Sandberg’s book Turn on Women, Work and the Will to Lead was presented at the Ukrainian Forum of Publishers recently held in Lviv. The translation into Ukrainian contains the preface written by Minister of Finance of Ukraine Natalia Yaresko.
- Marissa Mayer (1975)
The beautiful blonde is a former Google employee numbered 20th and the first female developer to begin working in Google when she took over her position in 1999. Marissa has reached the post of vice president of search, but in mid-July 2012, being in the sixth month of pregnancy, she went to Yahoo! where she took over the post of CEO. Her activities at Yahoo! proved to be quite successful – the company’s capitalization increased 2.5 times. Marissa is not only one of the youngest female leaders of IT companies; she also successfully combines this role with her family life and motherhood: she is now waiting for a second child.
Unfortunately, to this day, employers are known to show a more rigorous attitude to the professional skills of female IT-engineers. This fact has convinced the scientists from America to carry out an interesting experiment.
Scientists at the Institute of Technology Studies of the United States studied codes written by male and female representatives carefully. The conclusion turned out to be rather interesting. Women were writing program codes responsibly and attentively with a minimum percentage of errors. The men who participated in the experimental study showed worse results than those of women.
It turned out that men concentrate on the work less than women, trying to do the job inconsistently, being distracted for a coffee, tea or smoke break.
So, in general, The Independent reports that American researchers have found that a computer code written by women tends to get higher scores than those written by men. However, exclusively provided that the person who evaluated the codes was unfamiliar with the sex of the author of the code.
Another study was conducted by students at California Polytechnic University and the University of North Carolina, and its results were based on the analysis of the behavior of more than a million users of GitHub, a leading web service for hosting and collaborating on IT projects.
As it turned out, suggestions on making changes to the code made by women addressed to the customers were received more willingly than those made by men (78.6% vs. 74.6% of cases) but only when the sexual affiliation of the user who suggested the correction was not identified. If the customer managed to identify that the recommendation for corrections was made by a woman, corrections were then performed only in 9.3% of cases.
As you can see, the misconceptions towards women in the IT sphere have practically no base. Female engineers throughout history have been long proving that they can play the role of perfect programmers. And the list of the examples of the most successful women in tech industry can be even continued with the names like Sara Kats, the president of Oracle, Meg Whitman, CEO at Hewlett Packard, Sher Wong, CEO at HTC, Angela Arendts, Apple vice president of retail and online sales, and Padmasree Warrior, Cisco Networking Technology vendor and strategy leader.