How many of you may have earlier heard of the lady computer scientist named Karen Spärck Jones or Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler or Ada Lovelace? Well, we all can keep guessing the percentage, but the irony is that women's contributions to technology are majorly left out in most of the technology books and journals. Here we will briefly know about the contributions these three unsung tech specialists have brought in at earlier times in a male-dominated field.
She may not be a household name like Steve Jobs but she is the first Tech Visionary who worked with Sir Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine (First Generation general-purpose mechanical computer partly built by English inventor Charles Babbage). And surprisingly, the lady - Ada Lovelace is the first ever computer programmer. She wrote the world's first machine algorithm for an early computing machine that existed only on paper. In fact, the early programming language ‘Ada’ created on behalf of the United States Department of Defense was named after her.
Since 2009, she has been recognized annually on October 15th with a holiday devoted to celebrate her legacy and has a technology award named after her in the United States with the objective of raising the profile of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) and creating new role models for women in these fields.
Karen Spärck Jones
Let us move on to the next woman jewel in technology space! You will be bowled over to know that 'Google-ing' would never have taken this shape without the contribution of this unsung women scientist. The search engines that we all use every time, basically rely on the natural language processing discoveries made by Karen Spärck Jones.
Recruited by the computational linguist - Margaret Masterman, another female professor; Karen worked in the "Language Research Unit". She is the one who is responsible for the concept of inverse document frequency – a technology that underlies most modern search engines. She is also behind the use of thesauri into language processing, allowing for computational recognition of similar words. Her most notable achievements laid the groundwork for the sort of information retrieval we use today. And she also introduced the idea and methods of "term weighing" in information retrieval, which helped queries determine which terms were the most relevant.
And here we come to the third tech expert who was here much before GoDaddy was conceived. We have Elizabeth Jake Feinler to thank for all the dot coms, dot nets, and dot govs out there today. Feinler has been quoted stating that: "People came to us for everything. The NIC was like the pre-historic Google.”
Before we knew and called it the internet, the ARPAnet was just a series of nodes, overseen by the Department of Defense that connected several research institutions. Through the "Network Information Center" (NIC), run by the researcher Elizabeth (Jocelyn) Feinler The Stanford Research Institute has been the "node" that oversaw the entire directory of the fledgling internet. Like a human Google, if you needed to retrieve an address, or register a new one, you had to ask Jake. She even helped to introduce the domain naming protocol - the organizational white and yellow pages of every domain on the internet.
Many say that it's hard to find enough incredible female leaders in technology, however since earlier days till recent times we have ample example of such unsung women achievers who have taken technological innovations to a different level altogether.
Watch this space to know more about our new generation women contributors in the technology space like Gwynne Shotwell – the President of SpaceX and the self-made woman - Safra Catz of Oracle fame who has worked up the ranks to the co-CEO position and is one of the highest-paid female executives until some years back.
Women in Digital is one of the tracks at People Matters TechHR Conference 2018 where you have the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most inspiring women in tech in an exclusive session for women leading digital transformation. Click here to register.