TMCnet Feature
March 08, 2021

Women In World Of Tech - Looking Back & Looking Forward



In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s explore the key role women have played in the tech world over the past two centuries, and what the industry has to offer them today.

March 8th is International Women’s Day — the perfect time to both learn a little more about how women have influenced the world of today, and examine how they will continue to do so in the future.

You may not be aware that women have played a critical role in the otherwise male-dominated tech industry since the 19th century...

3 Women That Directly Influenced The Development Of Modern Technology

  1. Ada Lovelace: Did you know that the first computer programmer was Ada Lovelace? In the early 1800s, as a part of her work with engineer Charles Babbage, Ada penned an algorithm for calculating Bernoulli numbers, which many modern computing experts consider to be the first computer program ever developed.



    Ada’s work was groundbreaking, having come more than a century before Alan Turing would use it to build and run the first modern computer. This cemented Ada as a critical player in the development of the modern computer.
     
  2. Hedy Lamarr: We can also thank women for inventing a fundamental part of the modern tech experience — Wi-Fi. Hedy Lamarr, in the process of developing a method for interfering with radio-guided torpedoes, was given the patent for her "secret communication system". This technology and patent would eventually lead to the development of Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology.
     
  3. Mary Wilkes: Working from home may be the norm for most of us right now, but in 1965, Mary Wilkes was the first to do it. A computer programmer and logic designer by trade, Mary developed LINC software, which allowed her to use the first-ever personal computer from home.

These are just three of the many women who have played key roles in the history of technology. However, despite this undeniable influence, women still encounter major obstacles when working in the industry today.

Women Continue To Face Significant Challenges In The Tech World

As in every professional industry, women face a range of forms of discrimination and harassment in the modern tech sector. A double standard is often at play, which rewards men for the same attributes that are held against their female counterparts.

“Men are perceived as ambitious and women are perceived as bossy,” says Jeanne Dewitt, Senior Vice-President, CPU. “This can be very frustrating. Women need to move past these limiting labels and just keep respect for themselves and they’ll earn respect from others – it takes time and perseverance, unfortunately.”

The reality is that, if women hope to succeed in the industry, and make a real change in the world around them, they are asked to do what it takes to overcome obstacles and earn respect their male counterparts are afforded automatically.

“Overcoming bias in a room full of men can be challenging but is possible by standing tall and remaining confident in your abilities,” says Sarah McAvoy, Sales Development Representative, Cyber Unlocked. “I am hopeful gender bias will one day become obsolete.”

Fortunately, as time goes on and inherent sexist biases are exposed and addressed, the working world is slowly becoming a more equitable and welcoming place for women.

“The good news is companies including MSPs are building diversity awareness,” says Sarah. “Although there does remain gender bias, and all professionals in the community need to continue working together to remove this bias.”

There Are More Opportunities For Women In The Tech Industry With Each Passing Year

Despite all these challenges women face in the tech world today, it’s important to recognize that there are engaging opportunities for them as well. Even though the tech field may not be presented as a career option to young women, they have every opportunity to enter it.

“Women need to make sure they have the right education,” says Jeannie. “ It’s amazing how many female students don’t even consider this industry because they were not raised to think of technology as an industry for women. The more women we can flood this industry with, the more likely we can overcome many of the issues that we encounter.”

As Jeannie notes, the more women who enter the field and pursue new opportunities within it, the more they can champion and support one another. Experienced leaders note two key ways that women can both give and find support as they navigate the industry:

  • Join Peer Groups & Find A Mentor: There are countless tech industry networking and peer organizations exclusive to women. As a new member of the industry, you can join one of these groups to both further your career, and learn from women with more experience than you.

    “For females entering the industry join a women-in-technology or similar group and find a mentor,” says Sarah. “Establishing a network helps with future job opportunities but also helps with maintaining your confidence.”
     
  • Support Other Women & Be A Mentor: Those with the hard-won experience and status are encouraged to do what they can to help the next generation of women entering the field.

    “Give back and become a mentor, mentoring is a great way to reflect on your journey and makes an incredible difference to women joining or re-joining the industry,” says Sarah.

    “I think there are very few successful female role models in this industry, so it can be very difficult for women to know how to succeed in this male-dominated area,” says Jeannie. “If you are successful, reach out to others to help as a mentor.”


The Future Is Female

Regardless of how important women have been in the development of the modern technology world, there’s still a long way to go before they enjoy the same opportunities and recognition as men in the field. It is thanks to the tenacity and perseverance of the women who paved the way centuries ago, and the women entering the field today, that the tech world offers more opportunities to them, as each year passes.



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