So today is Ada Lovelace day and many people are writing posts in her honor that say something about women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).
For awhile I thought I would write on some particular historical figure, but after thinking over my own research on gender and technology, I’ve decided instead to write a bout women I know who are quietly doing their thing in these fields, without public recognition (so far).
Sher Doruff. I wrote about Sher last summer and while she’s fairly well-known in the European art/culture community, I doubt most people think of her as working in Tech. Yet she was one of the driving forces in KeyWorx, an open-source project at De Waag Society for Old and New Media. KeyWorx was a tool for collaboration and interaction between artists/musicians that allowed them not only to work together in real time, but to actually take control of each other’s machines, allowing for some really cool performances.
Lee Atchison. Lee has been involved with Sequential Tart since it was founded, and has designed our CMS from scratch. She has been titled web designer, system administrator, and solutions architect at various jobs. I think Lee is inspirational as an example of someone who just went out there and did her thing, in this case, programming and web design.
Melanie Martin and Megan Thomas. These are two of my colleagues on Campus who both teach in the Computer Science department. Both of them have have accomplished a lot in getting doctorates to begin with, but around here (a very conservative geographical area, with a strong patriarchal culture, historically) are especially great because their very existence can inspire young women to look beyond traditional roles and careers.
All of these women also embody ideals held by Ada Lovelace beyond their connections with science and technology. Somewhere, I recall Lovelace said that you can be complete without having the care of another. She didn’t just mean parenting, but teaching and mentoring aso count. All of the women I mention here have done that, either explicitly, as teachers, or as mentors, or both, helping both men and women to learn more about technology and about how unlimited by gender it can be.