Every few months, it seems as if there’s yet another debate about why we see so few women in technology. I think a lot of it is because we just don’t hear about women role models as often as we do the men. For every woman you see speaking at a conference, there’s several guys — in fact, at some conferences you hardly see any women speakers at all. And as a woman in IT, I’ve seen it first hand — I’ve too often been the only techie girl in the room, and most of the more senior folks in my career have been guys. It’s tough!
The good news is that today is a day for celebrating female role models in technology. March 24th is Ada Lovelace Day, and it’s a chance to highlight your favorite females in geekdom. Ada Lovelace is widely credited as being the first computer programmer–not just the first female computer programmer, but the first at all–and she’s a great reminder that women have been an important part of this industry for many, many years.
So, how do you participate? You can blog about it, make a video or podcast, tweet about it–in fact anything at all that you can put online is welcome. When you’re done, add it to the list — there’s already a growing collection of posts from people who have something to say about inspiring geek women.
Here are three inspiring geek women who, to me, are great role models.
danah boyd (yes, the use of lowercase is deliberate) has been thinking, writing and speaking about how we interact online since well before most people had even heard of the phrase ‘social network.’ danah’s a well-known speaker, a prolific blogger, and is currently part of the Microsoft research group in New England–check out a recent interview with her about the work she’s doing there. danah’s eloquent, passionate, and switched on. If you aren’t already reading her blog, and you have even a passing interest in the Social Web, you’re missing out.
Susan Kare is a graphic designer who was involved with the first Macintosh. Her work on the Mac’s fonts, icons and interface helped make the Mac such a groundbreaking achievement in user interface design. It’s because of Susan’s work that the Mac is so fun, friendly, and personal. She later worked on all kinds of projects, such as icons and interfaces for OS/2 and Windows, Facebook’s gift icons, handheld applications, and even the Chumby. She’s a pioneer in the field of interface design — if you’re interested in web design or user experience, there’s a lot you can learn from Susan Kare.
Among markup gurus and CSS fiends, Molly is one of those people who doesn’t need a surname — like Sting, Bono, or Madonna. Molly’s a consultant, trainer, speaker, author, and an overall rockstar in terms of getting the word out about Web standards. Molly’s writing, blogging and speaking have been relevant for years and I’m sure they’ll stay that way for some time. Right now she’s working with the team at Opera as a Web evangelist, spreading the good word about Web standards.
How about you? Who are your favorite female geek role models?