National Women’s Equality Day

Today is National Women’s Equality Day, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to ask our very own Tracy Schoen for her experiences. She always has the best advice, encouragement, and especially stories! So without further ado, Tracy Schoen!

Women in Tech

What does “Women in Tech” mean to me? Well, in my mind, it’s not that far off from females who have blazed trails for years in our rather tumultuous history. It’s women who have given of themselves to help the women of today have a little better life – both personally and professionally. 

Women have driven innovation in tech since the 19th century, but have long gone unnoticed. Their history is as  complex as the field itself. There are currently strong debates going on around the world as to how the pioneering of a lot of computer programming came from women, but there is a serious lack of representation in the field of computer sciences.

I started in technology right out of school from Texas A&M (which, by the way, opened in 1876, but didn’t allow women to attend until 1963!).  I was a student of mainframes and punch cards, and while the Computer Science degree didn’t fit me, Psychology did, and I parlayed it to Recruiting and Sales in technology.

I was blessed to work for Compaq and many of my mentors came from my time there. We were always very fortunate to have “Women in Technology” speakers on campus – and even though in the 90’s that seemed to feed the fire of segretating women from men in tech, it was a powerful experience to be with so many influential women who were already taking a hand at changing technology.

Do you recognized the name Ada Lovelace? Probably not, unless you’re a Computer Science geek, and a historian. Ada was able to grasp “the most abstract of Science….with a force which few masculine intellects could have exerted over it.” That female intellect earned her a spot as the first computer programmer. Not the first female programmer, but the first programmer!

Surprised? Don’t be! Katherine Johnson (think “Hidden Figures”) was the first computer. Her hand calculated numbers were always used to verify anything that the computers of that time came out with. She hand calculated over most men with as well, with a prowess that has never been matched.

How about Grace Murray Hopper? Super cool lady. She started in the 40’s at Harvard and was one of the architects of COBOL. She is also credited with introducing the phase “debugging” into the vernacular of the tech world. Why? She found a dead moth in a computer and taped it into the logbook with a note saying “first actual bug found”. We definitely have a sense of humor, too!

You can always thank Carol Shaw if you enjoy retro computer games. She was deeply embedded into Atari back in its early days and left a heck of a legacy behind in the video game world.

Did you ever have a Palm Pilot? Those were before the dawn of the Blackberry. Donna Dubinsky introduced those “personal digital assistants” (PDA’s) to us all and brought them to the open market.

Happy National Women’s Equality Day!