Celebrating Women in Computing–Past, Present and Future

The Importance of Women in Computer History

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

Women have been widely recognized as being important in the history of computer programming. Two examples of women technical pioneers are:

  • Ada Lovelace (1815 to 1852), who was believed to be the first computer programmer.
  • Grace Hopper (1906 to 1992), who was a computer programmer that helped pave the way for the COBOL programming language by developing a compiler, which translated mathematical code into machine-readable code.

Image of Grace Hopper courtesy of Pixabay

Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing

Women continue to celebrate their place in technology. Last year was the fourth annual CAN-CWIC (Canadian Celebration of Women in Computing) conference, which took place in the International Center in Mississauga, Ontario on November 8th and 9th 2019. There were 20+ sessions for 700+ attendees and 40+. Sessions included such topics as social media branding, technologies for people with disabilities, cybersecurity, gaming and others.

Image  courtesy of Pixabay

Some Stats on Women in Technology

Some promising stats compiled on women in technology for 2018.

  • 29% of all Apple leaders were women.
  • The percentage of Facebook’s women in tech had increased to 22%.
  • Facebook’s female employees reached 36%.
  • Women formed 9% of Google’s employees.
  • 5% of Google’s leaders on a global scale were female.
  • 5% of Google’s newly hired tech-position employees were women.
Canadian Contribution to the Future of Women in Computing

Image courtesy of Pixabay

To invest in the future of Women in Technology, the Canadian Government has launched a $2 billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) to double the number of women-owned businesses in Canada by 2025 by increasing access to finance, networks, and advice. As a part of WES, there is a $20 million Women Entrepreneurship Fund which funds women-led companies. Also, involved in the WES initiative is a $200 million Women in Technology (WIT) venture fund that supports women in building their businesses.

Why are Women in Technology Unsung?

What would you consider to be one of the biggest hurdles of being a woman in technology?

COBOL on Social Media

The Programming Professional on Social Media

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

When you think of the various Social Media Networks, LinkedIn is the first one that comes to mind as the main professional Social Media resource. Professionals looking for, and providing, information in their field would tend to look there first. Unfortunately, what’s often missed, are the sometimes hidden gems of information garnered through Facebook pages and groups, Twitter tweets, or Pinterest pins. For the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to use the example of “COBOL Programming” to illustrate that there is information to be found on each of these Social Media Networks for Programming Professionals

Facebook as a Programming Resource

After doing a search for the word “COBOL” on my Facebook account and scrolling through the results, I can see that there are several types of information that are available and useful to both the new and experienced COBOL Programmer. Of course, given the volume, you would need to take time to filter through each type and determine if it is current, valid, and useful to your context. On a cursory first glance though, in the list of pages to “like” and groups to join, one group that stands out is “COBOL Programmers”, which currently has 10,775 members and has daily activity. Members frequently post interesting information and other members ask related questions. With almost 11,000 experts at your fingertips, how could it not be a useful resource?

The COBOL Facebook search result also came up with PDF links for COBOL tutorials, programmer guides, and professional blogs (such as the Micro Focus Company blog). If they were to be cited as professional sources of information, these documents would have to be verified as reliable resources. This article, “How Can I tell if a Website is Credible”, provides some helpful ideas for what to look for in determining the credibility of a source.

Professionalism in Twitter Tweets

A search for COBOL on Twitter revealed a smaller presence than on Facebook. However, there are some Twitter COBOL-related profiles that are recently active and have tweets with interesting links. One of note is “COBOL60” that celebrates the 60th birthday of COBOL in a professional manner. The tweets on this profile typically contain links to courses or related websites. Again, some time would be necessary to read through thoroughly and filter the information, for credibility.

Below is a screenshot of my COBOL search result on Twitter. As well as several COBOL-related “People”, there is also professional noteworthy information under the “Photos” and “Videos” sections from such companies as Micro Focus, Red Hat, Raincode and others. As you can see, COBOL information for the professional is also present on Twitter.

Pinterest for Computer Professionals                                                                               

Pinterest is a Social Media, online service, that allows users to organize and share images and videos. A search on COBOL in Pinterest resulted in many, many pins. From a Professional perspective, several of the pins are for COBOL courses and tutorials of varying levels, debugging tools, and related programming information.

To be honest, I hadn’t considered Pinterest as a resource for job-related information before. After this first look, I can see that there could be a whole separate discussion on the programming information and categories available on Pinterest. I can’t wait to get back to it to start organizing and filtering some of the useful information I’ve seen.

The future of Professionalism on Social Media

With Social Media advancing at such a fast rate, it’s hard to predict its future.  A recent article,“What Will Social Media Look Like in the Future” discusses possible future trends such as:

    1. More privacy and security
    2. More video
    3. Less personal content
    4. Premium services and fewer ads
    5. Mobile focused experience
    6. Less typing, and more visuals

Only time will tell if the future will find Social Media moving more toward the informal or more toward the formal.

If you haven’t done it already, think of your own work-related topic and try to research it on Social Media. You might be surprised by the wealth of information you find.