I planned a month or so ago to put up a post on Ada Lovelace Day in celebration of the women I know who work in IT and related fields, and to share something about women who inspired me earlier in life to follow the path I chose. And there have been and are so many.
But then I also just heard of the death of a friend, and I want to take some time remembering her too – so this will be shorter than planned, and that may also not be a bad thing.
Since I started working in IT in the late 1980s I have met a huge number of wonderful women who humbled me with their skills, knowledge and brilliance. I feel lucky to have known so many – and having worked in voluntary and latterly public sector, I find we have a high proportion of women doing technical jobs. It has not been, in my experience, odd to have female technicians, programmers or IT managers. As with many other areas of expertise, women are better represented than statistics would seem to imply.
I fell into IT by accident, so can’t claim to great inspiration at an early age, but I stayed because it wasn’t all spotty youths conforming to stereotypes. I found that being good at logic suddenly was useful and valued. I found that I could help people find a way to manage all the new technology by interpreting it for them. And most of all I got to play at building computer systems and networks, which turned out to be fun. I was only thankful I didn’t have to spend lots of time programming!
In terms of figures that inspired me, aside from immediate contacts, I would like to draw attention to Steve Shirley. I doubt I can say anything more about her here, except that I attended a presentation she once gave and have never forgotten the possibilities it opened up inside me.
So, among many others, thanks not only to the current amazing women in my workplace, both Alisons, Astell, Liz, Kath, Damaris, Claire, Laura, Helen, Linda and Sara but also to Brenda, Sylvia, Sara, Gill, Odette, Jeniffer, Maggie, Joan, Fiona, Jo, Sue and most especially to Teresa, Ann, Joy and Karen P. Although you will almost certainly never read this – thank you.