In 1842, Ada Lovelace, known as the “enchantress of numbers,” wrote the first computer program.
Fast-forward 171 years to today (which happens to be Ada Lovelace Day, for highlighting women in science, technology, engineering and math), and computer programming is dominated by men.
Women software developers earn 80 percent of what men with the same jobs earn. Just 18 percent of computer science degrees are awarded to women, down from 37 percent in 1985. Fewer than 5 percent of venture-backed tech start-ups are founded by women.
Those statistics, released by Symantec, the security company, and the Anita Borg Institute, which works to recruit and promote women in tech, provide context for recent debates in Silicon Valley, like why Twitter has no women on its board.
Given that girls begin to shy away from computer science when they are young, because of a lack of role models and encouragement from parents and teachers, perhaps a short history lesson on Ms. Lovelace would be helpful.
She was the daughter of Lord Byron, the poet, who split from her mother shortly after her birth. Her mother encouraged her to pursue math to counter her father’s “dangerous poetic tendencies,” according to the University of California, San Diego.
Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, some people sense change in the air.
“There’s a lot more focus than we’ve seen in the past, and a lot more hard conversations,” said Telle Whitney, chief executive of the Anita Borg Institute.
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, is known as the
first programmer, because she designed a program for
the unbuilt machine.Credit Hulton Archive, via Getty Images
The Symantec and Anita Borg report tried to find a bright side — the wage gap is smaller in technology and engineering than it is in other fields, and the job opportunities are many.
Astia, which offers programs for women tech entrepreneurs, announced Tuesday a partnership with Google to expand its lunch series for introducing women founders to investors.
And two scientists, sponsored by Brown University, are hosting a mass Wikipedia editing session on Tuesday, for people to create and expand upon entries for women in science and technology.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day.
This post was written by Usman Abrar. To contact the writer write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook