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Maya Baratz

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On Women In Tech -- Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day

Posted: 03/24/2010 4:26 pm

Back in September, when I wrote a column about the state of women in tech, I didn't quite anticipate how people would react to my perspective. The stream of responses I received -- ranging from dismissive comments to heartfelt emails from influential women to photos that spoke for themselves -- echoed an unsettled state. A nerve was hit. And the inevitable question was raised: Now what?

The answer boils down to those three evasive words (wait for it): I don't know. I don't know what exactly will motivate more girls to study the sciences, and I don't know what will close the representation gap so those who have already dedicated their livelihoods to being skilled engineers, product managers and tech entrepreneurs are properly credited for their work. And I don't know what it would take for a general shift in perspective to happen so that the concept of "women in tech" transforms from novelty to banality.

What I have learned, thanks to this little experiment, is that a very old concept still stands: Sharing stories and experiences helps mold a collective footprint in a way that can shift perspective. And if you're the type who needs a reason to party, today, March 24, marks the second annual Ada Lovelace day. Yep, as you guessed it, Lovelace was an influential woman in technology -- regarded as the world's first computer programmer, in fact. In her honor, folks from around the world are collectively telling the personal and professional stories of women who have left their mark in the sciences.

If you think this sounds all kumbaya, just read this one story submission about Mileva Maric, Albert Einstein's wife. Go ahead, read it. Yes, like right now.

While there are pieces and bits to some of these stories that have been debated, airing these chronicles and discussions, however seemingly small, allows us to get a good glimpse of the age-old interest, passion and influence women have had for creation in science and technology. Whether it be about Einstein's wife or Etsy's CEO Maria Thomas - who, I learned via email exchange, mentors girls in her free time - unearthing this river of narratives will hopefully not only shift our collective perspective, but also work to further inspire women to make bigger and better waves in our industry.

 

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