Women have always been at the forefront of change. From early pioneers like Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper to modern-day innovators like Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer, women have always played a vital role in the tech industry and helped the tech industry grow.

The History of Women in Technology

Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace was born in 1815 in London and was homeschooled by several tutors and her mother, who made sure to include science and mathematics in her daughter's curriculum. This proved advantageous later on, as she is now recognized as an English mathematician and writer. Ada Lovelace is credited with developing the first computer algorithm, published in 1843, which was designed to be processed by a machine and is thus regarded as the world's very first computer programmer.

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper was born in New York City in 1906. She graduated from Yale University in 1930 and received a PH. D in mathematics.  She was a mathematician and computer scientist who worked on the Harvard Mark I computer, one of the first computers ever built. In 1943, she joined the United States Navy Reserve and became one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. She also developed the first compiler for a computer programming language and wrote the first book on how to program computers.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was born in Vienna, Austria in 1914. She was an actress and inventor. Without any professional technology training, she achieved a lot being entirely self-taught. In 1941, she co-invented a frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology whose key purpose was to set radio-guided torpedoes off course during the war. This component is now used in wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Modern Women in Technology

Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer was born in Wausau, Wisconsin in 1975. She graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and an M.S. in Computer Science. Mayer was the mastermind behind Google's home page search interface. As a Product Manager for Google Search, she increased the number of searches from just a few hundred thousand to an impressive one billion within 10 years. Marissa has also contributed to Gmail, Chrome, Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View, among other services and products. After working as a Software Engineer at Google for 13 years, she was promoted to CEO and President of Yahoo in 2012. Later in 2018, Mayer started Lumi Labs, which was in the process of creating "consumer apps powered by artificial intelligence." The firm was renamed Sunshine in 2020 and that year released its first product, Sunshine Contacts, a smartphone application that allows users to manage their contact information. Mayer was known for her excellent attention to detail, strong sense of aesthetics, and hands-on management style. She sat on the boards of several nonprofit and for-profit enterprises.

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is the current Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook. She was born in 1969 in Washington, D.C. Sheryl Sandberg graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Economics and went on to earn her M.B.A from Harvard Business School. Prior to working at Facebook, she was appointed as the Vice President of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google.

Sheryl Sandberg’s work at Facebook has been largely focused on advertising. One of her most popular quotes is, “Advertising is the most important thing we do.” Her advertising-centred efforts have helped Facebook become the most profitable ad seller in the world. In 2016, Facebook’s advertising revenue accounted for $27.6 billion, more than double its revenue from 2012.

Radia Perlman

Radia Perlman is a Computer Programmer and Network Engineer. She was born in 1951 in New York City. Radia Perlman attended MIT, where she earned a B.S. in Mathematics and a Ph.D in Computer Science. She is best known for her work on the development of the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which is a key component of network infrastructure. Perlman has also written several books on networking and programming, including “Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols” and “Designing Large-Scale LANs.”

Radia Perlman is often referred to as the “Mother of the Internet” as a result of her work on the STP. She has received numerous awards and honors for her contributions to the field of computer science, including the Women of Vision Award from the Anita Borg Institute and the Distinguished Alumni Award from MIT.

The Importance of Women in Technology

Although women are still underrepresented in the technology domain, their contributions to the tech industry remain invaluable. Women in technology bring a unique perspective to the table and play an important role in shaping the future of technology. The tech industry might still be male-dominated, but having a diversity of voices is long overdue. Women are often the primary users of technology, and their needs should be taken into account. We applaud all women in technology for their hard work and dedication to paving the way for the future.