Hello pals… here I’m again, blogging time! 🙂
As you already know, some days ago the world celebrated the “International Women’s day“, a nice occasion to congratulate to all the women I know, Mom first.
I think I love them all, but that day I was thinking about a little special kind of them: Oh! yes, the Geek women. Some of my friends think that they are a myth, a legend, something unreal. Nevertheless, I think they exist; not in my classroom, but in other places of the world, they do.
I understand the point of view of my friends, I mean, in my college there are many girls, but just a handful of them really love Geek stuff, you know: programming, hacking, reading Unix books and things like that. Why is this? I have no idea, but at least in my classroom is a fact.
Why are too few girls in my classroom? I don’t know it neither. I guess this deserves a new investigation… the subject: Geek women around the world… so, here we go!
Sneaking around Google, among a lot of links, I found an interesting article called “Top Ten Geek Girls“, it lists some of the most incredible girls in history of technology and science. When I read it, I feel myself so little, so insignificant… the achievements of those girls are awesome! and I have to admit I hope to be like one of them some day in my life.
I want to reference someone in special: Grace Hopper. As computer science student, I feel an special link with her career. Let’s quote a chunk of her life from the article:
“Hopper was the quintessential geek. Not content with inventing the Mark I Calculator, she wrote the first compiler (broadly, a piece of software that converts text written in a programming language into more efficient machine code). Her invention led to the creation of COBOL. Hopper’s contribution to the world of computers cannot be underestimated: she pioneered the idea of using programming languages that bear some relation to the English language, and then using a compiler to convert these into a form that a computer can rapidly digest. While this idea seems obvious to any modern programmer, in Hopper’s day it was a completely original philosophy. She also famously discovered a moth causing a computer to malfunction — the first recorded case of a real computer bug.”
What kind of geek wouldn’t dream of having a grandmother like her? She created the concept of “Bug” and I love to be a beta-tester, so, I feel a very strong connection with her. My admiration is endless, she inspires me (I have to confess).
Of course, Grace wasn’t the only woman in the Geek history; even more, the list of Geek women isn’t short. Maybe in the past, they were a small group, but now it’s quite different, not only in the academic scope, but in the technology business too.
Looking for names in the present, I found one of the many girls doing history in the Geek scene. She is Justine Cassell and I want to quote some words about her:
“Justine is now an Associate Professor at MIT’s Media Laboratory and the director of their Gesture and Narrative Language Research Group. With her students, Justine studies natural forms of communication with technology, particularly Embodied Conversational Agents. These Agents are life-size computer-generated figures that are captured on a screen and respond with appropriate speech, body movements, and facial expressions to the behaviors of a human standing in front of them.”
Oh my God! when I read things like this, immediately I want to finish my degree today and then start some kind of spectacular software project. Nevertheless, I have to wait four years more… unfortunately, patience is not one of my skills 😦
But there’s something important to say about this topic, life isn’t so easy for this women or for any woman who wants to be part of the Geek elite. As part of my research, I found this interesting article called “Where are the Geek Women?“, talking about all the issues women have to face when they try to get success as professionals and entrepreneurs in the technology business. The conclusion is a little sad: currently, too few women can make it up. So, the list of geek girls I found is large, but it should be larger and maybe that explains why there are too few geek women in my college, and perhaps in yours too. Fortunately, there are some sites around the Internet focused on enforcing geek girls groups like Linux Chix, Debian Women and Girl Geeks (I hope to see a lot more in the future).
However, I was reading the stories of many Geek women (Indu Navar, Laura Demmons, Kristin Asleson McDonnell, Lissa Morgenthaler-Jones, Mary Tagliaferri, etc) and everyone was incredible, motivating. Definitely, the open source movement requires the women support to keep on growing, their contributions are great and I must say they have a special touch 🙂
Finally, I have to say that I am not expecting to have a Geek girlfriend (it would be great && not imperative) but the true is that they are great and they are for real!
Skating time friends, see you later 🙂
PS: If you want to help us to invite women to join to the Linux world, I recommend you to check out this Howto.