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Can Women Be Technology Leaders?

Tracy Levine

Tracy Levine

Forbes Coaches Council

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Big Thinks Men and Women and Technology equals progress

When 'computers' were human, they were women. How did "Careers for Girls" become the "Boys Club?"

Can women be technology leaders? Do they have what it takes to lead in Industry 4.0? The answer is yes! Women have been technology leaders for a long time.

Business and productivity are about solving problems and creating services and products. Progress is about going to find the new problems that need to be solved. Women have been instrumental in creating progress in technology. Throughout history, diversity and inclusion have been a competitive advantage for solving new problems and creating new opportunities to increase technological capabilities and optimal outcomes.

History of Women and Men Working Together to Empower Innovation

Working Together


The Analytical Engine

Ada Lovelance quote. "Mathematical science shows what is. It is the language of unseen relations between things. But to use and apply that language, we must be able fully to appreciate, to feel, to seize the unseen, the unconscious.

Most historians remember the first industrial revolution as the invention of the steam engine. It was during this period in history that Charles Babbage envisioned building an Analytical Engine. He is credited with conceiving the first automatic digital computer. Babbage envisioned a system that could perform mathematical operations based on a set of instructions.  While he never built the machine, his design included punched cards, a memory component, and many elements that would eventually be included in the first computer.

Countess Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, wrote the first program and algorithm on how you would explain to this Analytical Engine what to do, in what sequence, and how to do it. She expanded on Babbage’s work. Lovelace described how letters, symbols, and numbers could all be put through the Analytical Engine and envisioned a process that is now referred to as looping. Programs today using looping programming to handle repetitive sequences

Careers For Girls


And Men Too

Grace Hopper predicts data will be an asset on the balance sheet

Howard Aiken and Grace Hopper worked together on the MARK series of computers at Harvard University beginning in 1944.  Hopper was a central figure in the development of UNIVAC, the first commercial computer. Hopper had a Ph.D. in Math from Yale and was in the Navy Reserve. She was instrumental in designing the COBOL language that helped facilitate the mass adoption of computers in business.

At the same time that Aiken and Hopper were designing the Mark series of computers, Hopper was featured in recruiting ads for “Careers for Girls.” The top skills needed were knitting, needlepoint and the ability to do crossword puzzles. The goal of the “Careers for Girls” campaign was to make computers seem less intimidating. The country was at war, and there was a skill shortage.

Women and Men


Exploring Air, Space, and the Universe

Pearl I. Young becomes the first women to be hired in a technical position at NASA Langley.
Following the creation of NASA, Dr. Henry J. E. Reid serves as the first Director of the NASA Langley Research Center.

Before there was NASA, there was Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, which had 32 male employees, and Pearl I. Young, a University of North Dakota graduate with majors in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. In 1922, Young worked with Henry J. E. Reid, who eventually became the head of Langley. They both started their career working in the Instrument Research Division, which “designed, constructed, calibrated, and repaired virtually all instrumentations carried on aircraft.” 

Young observed that the young engineers were not good at documenting and writing-up their work.  She became Langly’s first Chief Technical Editor and is credited with creating the framework for the “Style Manual for Engineering Authors.

When computers were human, women were computers. Katherine Johnson was instrumental in figuring out the paths for John Glenn to orbit the earth. Later she figured out the path that could be used to get astronauts to the moon.  Several other women were instrumental in NASA’s success.

Companies Must LEAD

LEAD. Learn with Feedback. Engage Confidently. Activate Power. Design the Future.

Learn from history's feedback on the value of Women and Men working together to amplify progress.

Engage confidently, knowing women in your organizations have the ability to be the next Ada, Pearl, Grace, or Katherine, a valuable leader and team member.

Activate the underutilized brain trust of women for technology roles.

Design a future where you have a competitive advantage because you have women and men working together to optimize opportunities to take advantage of technology in Industry 4.0.

Women + Men + Technololgy = A Competitive Advantage

Diversity and Inclusion in the workforce has created progress. Women can be technology leaders and valuable members of the team. Companies that ignore the history of women and men working together to make great things happen risk being left behind. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), more than 1 billion jobs, a third of all global jobs, will be transformed by technology over the next 10 years. Including women in technology leadership and development is essential to addressing the increasing skill shortage and maintaining a competitive advantage.

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