Talking about the past and the historical importance of women in information technology is an unfinished business we have as an industry. While efforts made to date, and the many programs that have been promoted to increase the participation of female talent are an excellent step forward, our inclusion initiatives have been missing a very important point: honoring the work that extraordinary women have done for the industry throughout history.
Technology as we know it would not exist without the involvement of women in the development of key elements that we take for granted today. For example, programming, the art that has been the foundation for the development of our entire industry, was invented by a woman.
Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician, writer, and computer scientist known for her work on the Charles Babbage calculator for general use, better known as the analytical machine. Among her contributions is what is now recognized as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine, making her the first computer programmer in history.
Like Ada’s example, there are many similar episodes throughout history: Hedy Lamarr created a wireless missile system that inspired the creation of Wifi; Rózsa Péter, a historical Hungarian mathematician, devised the recursive functions fundamental to computing. The Top Secret Rosies were a group of six women charged with programming one of the first computers in history, the ENIAC, during World War II.
All these examples prove the constant innovation and unforgettable mark that these women have left on the history of our industry and the world. They and many others helped humanity make huge strides at a time when our knowledge was limited. But at what point did they fall by the wayside? Why did they walk away when they were the cornerstone of an industry that was moving in leaps and bounds?
We need to get women back into their rightful place in the industry. In Latin America, efforts to change the workplace culture towards an inclusive ecosystem for female talent have not been delayed. Thanks to multiple approaches that have attacked the problem at its root with programs that promote education and projects that seek to improve the professional development of female talent, results are already beginning to be seen.
According to a study by KPMG, Latin America is at the forefront worldwide when it comes to women leaders in the technology sector, with 16%, which, although still a rather worrying number, is higher than in other regions such as the United Kingdom, where there are only 10% of women in executive positions.
History is cyclical and little by little they are gradually regaining the role that naturally belongs to them. We are one of the most innovative industrial sectors globally, always thinking of ideas that seek the development and welfare of humanity; however, how will we be able to look to the future when we still have debts with our past? This is a reflection that we all need to consider and pay attention to in order to move forward.