Women in Technology: Blazing Trails in a Male-Dominated Industry

Women in Technology: Blazing Trails in a Male-Dominated Industry

Throughout history, boys have been encouraged to enter technical fields, and girls directed toward the arts because some have felt girls aren’t as competent as boys in those fields. What a misconception! Although this stereotype of women has permeated the work force for years, corporate leaders—especially those in technology —are rethinking that unfair classification.

According to NCWIT’s Women in IT, women in technology are making strides, but the numbers are not there yet. In the computing workforce, only 26 percent are women; just 7 percent are minority women. Only 20 percent of Fortune 100 companies are led by female CIOs. Even though women do the work, they are not getting the compensation they deserve.

On average, women must work 15.5 months to reach the salary a man earns in 12. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is one of those leaders who is trying to close the gender gap, hoping for a change that will bring equality to the work force and put more women in technology. Many Silicon Valley tech firms—Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Dropbox, Facebook and LinkedIn—are following suit. Last year, they signed the White House Equal Pay Pledge, promising to conduct an annual gender pay analysis and review hiring practices to check for biases.

Although there are still some roadblocks to overcome, there are opportunities. LinkedIn reports that the rate of female technical new hires rose 24.4 percent between 2008 and 2016. That’s promising—especially for women contemplating studying information technology. Campus, formerly known as MTI College, is the place to start. Campus' IT program prepares you for an entry-level position as a technical support specialist.

Women have made tremendous achievements in the field of technology. Perhaps one day you will make your mark in the world as these women did with their breakthrough discoveries in computing, communications and gaming.

First computer programmer, a 19th century royal

Ada Byron, Duchess of Lovelace, could have followed in the footsteps of her famous father, poet Lord Byron. Instead, she chose mathematics—unusual for a female born in 1815. She helped document notes on the “Analytical Engine” that her boss, Charles Babbage, invented in 1843. Ada’s algorithm to help Babbage’s machine count Bernoulli numbers earned her recognition as the first computer programmer. Sadly, Babbage was unable to secure funding, and his “computer” never came to fruition.

Rear admiral at the forefront of programming

Grace Hopper was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy during World War II, but her other titles included “Queen of Software” and “Grandma COBOL.” She was known for developing English-language programming language, including FLOW=MATIC language that Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) was based on. In the 1950s, she was senior mathematician for a company that developed UNIVAC, the second commercial computer produced in the United States. At the same time, she created the “A compiler,” a program that translates source code from one computer language to another. Curiously, Hopper was the first to coin the word “bug” to describe a computer glitch after she discovered a real moth that got into her computer and caused a problem. To honor her legacy, the largest conference of women in technology, Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, is named after her.

From Golden Age of Hollywood screen sensation to Wi-Fi pioneer

In the 1920s, Hedy Lamarr dazzled Hollywood as a beautiful screen star, but during World War II she used her talents to fight the Nazis. She and her co-inventor, George Anthiel, developed spread spectrum technology, an early form of encryption technology. They manipulated radio signals to control torpedoes remotely, forming an unbreakable code to prevent the interception of classified messages by the enemy. The technology was first used on naval ships during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and years later was the foundation for Bluetooth technology, Wi-Fi and Code Division Multiple Access (CDMI).

“Necessity is the mother of invention”

Police were slow to respond to emergencies in Marie Van Brittan Brown’s crime-riddled Queens, New York neighborhood. She took matters into her own hands to keep her home and family safe and secured a patent in 1966 for a home security system that featured peepholes, a camera, a monitor, a two-way microphone and an alarm button that reached the police. Her system was the basis for modern CCTV systems used for home security and police work today.

Bell Labs employees make strides in communications

Talk about multitasking! Dr. Erna Schneider Hoover worked in the technology department at Bell Laboratories during a time that they had an excessive volume of incoming calls. While she was in the hospital after giving birth to her second daughter, Dr. Hoover developed a telephony switching computer program that kept phones functioning during periods of heavy call volume without dropping calls. Her patent in 1971 was one of the first software patents issued.

Another Bell employee, Dr. Shirley Jackson, a theoretical physicist and the first African-American woman to earn a PhD from MIT, conducted breakthrough scientific research that enabled others to go on to invent the portable fax, the touchtone telephone, fiber optic cables and the technology behind Caller ID and Call Waiting.

Contributing toward a big slice of the Apple pie

Back when Steve Jobs was creating the Apple computer, graphic designer Susan Kare worked alongside him as the artist who, in a way, humanized the Mac. She crafted many of the now-standard pixelized interface elements, like the Mac smile, the trash can icon, the invaluable command icon and more. When Jobs left Apple in the mid-1980s, Kare followed. She worked for Microsoft, making Windows 3.0 user friendly, and then went on to do work for Facebook and PayPal.

Small screens and big dreams

Mary Lou Jepsen is an innovative technical executive and industry leader in screen display and imaging. At Facebook, she worked with Virtual Reality. At Google X, she created Google Lego TV. And as founder and former CEO of Pixel Qi in Taiwan, she helped develop low-power, sunlight-readable screens for mobile devices. Jepsen had a dream, however, to provide a computer to every child. She produced the XO, a low-power, low-cost notebook prototype for the nonprofit she co-founded: One Laptop Per Child. Her latest endeavor is Openwater, a company she founded with the goal of using a high-resolution 3D camera to see far into the body with explicit detail.

Fun and games that pay off

A pioneer and visionary in the graphic adventure games industry, Roberta Williams is best known for her PC adventure game series King’s Quest, which has had seven sequels. She and her husband, Ken Williams, founded Sierra On-Line Systems (later known as Sierra On-Line). Roberta popularized the gaming industry with her games’ intricate storylines and complex puzzles that enticed players to fight their way to victory.

Technology’s potential is limitless, and job growth looks good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for technical support specialists is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations. Industry leaders continue to acknowledge the importance of female workers and are vowing to employ more women. If you would like to be among the growing list, Campus can help prepare you for a career in technology.

Note: The data provided above are from a source unaffiliated with Campus, formerly known as MTI College, are for informational purposes only and represent the employment field as a whole. They are not solely specific to Campus graduates and, by providing the above information, Campus makes no representation, direct or implied, or opinion regarding employability.