Technology. Most would say "that thing that guys know more about". Women have long fought for their place as equals in society and while we're making headway, the tech world is still one that's unfortunately dominated by their male counterparts. What if we told you though, that the technological world as we know it today is the result of some of the most impressive work done by the brightest women in history? This Women's Day, we're running down 5 important tech contributions made by women you've probably never heard of, but should be thanking every day.
Karen Spärck Jones
Google. That thing we use every day to find out when our favourite soccer team was playing, which sort of biscuits work best for the base of a tart or how the idea of indexing thousands of words for Google searches came to be. That last one specifically, is thanks to Karen Spärck Jones. A pioneer in information retrieval systems, Jones assisted in the development of the basis of what Google searches are - getting information based on what you typed in but also understanding what it is you are trying to say even if you are not saying it correctly. She's been named by fellow collegiates as "one of the most cerebral women they've ever met". Jones passed away in 2007, but she laid the foundation for a system we'll be using for many years to come.
Before we had Apple iPhones, we had the Blackberry. But before the Blackberry, there was the Palm Pilot - recognized as the world's first mainstream PDA. Following a stint in Apple - where she got promoted for standing up to Steve Jobs - Dubinsky co-founded Palm in 1992. While she never officially conceptualized the product, she was tasked with developing it and bringing it to market - a market where Apple had already failed with a PDA experiment called the Newton. Palm went on to become a huge success in the mid-to-late 90s, releasing several Palm devices that featured emails with attachments, calendar syncing and games - more than a decade before the first iPhone was released.
When you think of the dawn of the Space Race, you think of the men who were sent out in to the deep black beyond - Alan Shepard, the first US astronaut in space, or Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the moon. Those are all incredible feats that could not have been accomplished by work on the ground. But more importantly, the work of three African American women, one of them being Katherine Johnson who was actually responsible for working out the trajectory of space flight and spacecraft control calculations. In an industry where even the slightest miscalculation can be detrimental to the mission, Johnsons' was always on-point and accurate and has been hailed as one of the most important figures in space exploration. She and her colleagues were the subject of the 2016 award-winning Hidden Figures.
Sister Mary Kenneth Keller
Computers. Where would we be without them? You'd think that the foundation of computer science would come from a hard-working man in some major US city, when in actuality it has its roots with Sister Mary Kenneth Keller - a religious nun from the American Midwest. She was the first women ever to earn a PhD in computer science and at Dartford College she worked on developing the BASIC programming language, which allowed software developers to write custom programs. A pioneer for women in computer science, Keller went on to author four books.
The internet. Without it, there'd be no Google or Facebook or cat videos with millions of views. There's a complex groundwork of data and systems in place to make sure the internet keeps us connected (or disconnected depending on your point of view), and while a handful of people are responsible for giving birth to the world wide web, it was Radia Perlman who developed the algorithm STP (spanning tree protocol), the very bit that connects point A with point B. Although she's continued to distance herself from the nickname, she's often heralded as 'The Mother of the Internet.'