I’ve blogged before about women in computing and called out to the SEO ladies asking if they would like to come over to the computing side. This is going to be made easier still as “Systers” have a “Pass-it-on” awards program meaning that any women can apply for a grant in the range of $500 to $1000 to help with the cost of training or materials for a career in computing.
“The Anita Borg Systers Pass-It-On (PIO) Awards honor Anita Borg’s desire to create a network of technical women helping one another. The cash awards, funded by donations from the Systers Online Community, are intended as means for women established in technological fields to support women seeking their place in the fields of technology. The program is called “Pass-It-On” because it comes with the moral obligation to “pass on” the benefits gained from the award.”
Anita Borg founded the community in 1987. She graduated from New York University in 1981 and went on to work with “Digital equipment” where she developed and patented a method for generating complete address traces used for analyzing and designing high-speed memory systems. She started the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference. The ABI (Anita Borg Institute) was originally called “Institute for women and technology” but the name was changed after Anita died in 2003.
Grace Hopper (actually called Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper) was a U.S naval officer and computer scientist. She got her PhD in Maths from Yale, and was a professor at Vassa until she went into the forces. She worked on Mark I computer programming and also wrote the 1st compiler (“The A – compiler) for the 1st computing language. She worked on Mark II and III as well. She also worked at Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation as a senior mathematician on the UNIVAC. She had a strong hand in the development of COBOL and between 1967 to 1977, she served as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy’s Office of Information Systems Planning, she became a captain. In 1969 – She won the first “man of the year” award from the Data Processing Management Association.
In fact she’s responsible for those 2 quotes that always resurface at some point or other:
“It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission” and “I believe in having an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out.”
Women represent less than 20% of the workforce on computing and it’s important to get more involved in it. Karen Sparck-Jones said “Computing is far too important to be left to the men” when she won the BCS Lovelace medal. The idea is that we need input from both sides of the spectrum to design and evolve effective and brilliant systems.
Computing is a particularly interesting and exciting area of science because you can literally change the world in a day.
If you are a woman and you are over 18, you can apply for a grant to get yourself into computing as a profession. You can use the money to pay for the fees on a course, get equipment, whatever you want to do. Are you interested in graphics, speech technology, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence, cryptography, bio informatics, information retrieval…there are so many interesting areas to work in.
Betty Snyder, who was one of the ENIAC programmers, when asked about how women should compete in the workplace said: “Look like a girl. Act like a lady. Think like a man. Work like a dog.”
Adele Goldberg said “The theoretical and practical knowledge embodied in CS is interesting as standalone study. But the real opportunity lies in equipping oneself to partnet with scientists or business experts to learn what they know and together to change how business or research is conducted.”
What do you want to have a hand in? What would you like to pioneer today?