The technology industry has long been a male-dominated field. Yet, we know the diverse perspectives women bring can inspire innovation, positive change, and new points of view that could be missing otherwise. To look forward to the future and a more equal footing for all who pursue a career in technology, we must first understand where we currently are by looking at the pioneers and game-changers of the past and present, whose work has undoubtedly shaped our future. Join AVANT as we celebrate Women’s History Month by honoring these revolutionaries in the technology industry.
Born in 1815, many regard Ada Lovelace as the world’s first computer programmer. She was also an English mathematician. Her mother insisted she receives private homeschooling that included science and mathematics, despite this not being common practice for young women at the time. Many believe Lovelace was the first to write a computer program. Her good friend and associate Charles Babbage, known as the “father of computers,” used her program in his work on his Analytical Engine machine. The early programming language “Ada” was even named for Lovelace. Every second Tuesday in October, we celebrate her contributions to early technology, computer programming, and the advancement of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Born in 1933, Annie Easley was an American computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist. She began her career in 1955 at NASA as a “human computer”. Easley was one of the first African Americans to work for NASA. As electronic computers took over the role of computing, Easley quickly evolved her skills. Soon, her title changed to mathematician and computer technician. She was instrumental in leading software that made the Centaur rocket project and future space shuttle launches possible. Easley also focused much of her career in alternative power technologies. Most notably, she worked to create and implement code that contributed to the development of batteries used in hybrid cars. She also fought hard for equal employment opportunities for herself and other minority figures at NASA. She spent much of her later life advocating for female and minority students to pursue careers in STEM.
Born in 1990, Anne-Marie Imafidon is a British computing, mathematics, and language child prodigy. She is also the founder and CEO of Stemettes. Stemettes is a social enterprise that promotes and encourages young women to explore careers in STEM. At age 20, Imafidon graduated from the University of Oxford with a master’s in mathematics and computer science. This made her one of the youngest graduates to ever receive a degree in those two subjects. She spent a short period working for several notable companies before venturing out on her own. In 2013, just three years after graduating, she launched Stemettes, a social enterprise that works across the UK and Ireland to champion, inspire, and support young women and non-binary people interested in a STEM career. Since its founding, Stemettes has worked with more than 50,000 young people. They provide workshops, events, and other important experiences that help encourage their interest in STEM. Imafidon holds multiple honorary doctorates and fellowships from various universities. In 2021, she was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, an esteemed UK fellowship.
It’s incredibly important to honor those who have made such remarkable strides in technology, as well as to understand how far we still have to go. We at AVANT celebrate and thank the women in technology who made the work we do possible, and we also are committed to working toward a future that offers equality to all of those in STEM and beyond.