The history of technology is one of men and machines, transformation tales of garages to grand mansions, alpha nerds and ‘brogrammers’. But female tech visionaries have always been at the forefront of technology and innovation, yet they’ve been overlooked, until now.
In her breakthrough book Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet, VICE reporter and musician Claire L Evans tells the story of internet’s unsung female heroes. From Ada Lovelace who wrote the first computer program back in the Victorian Age (100 years before the first computer was built), to Elizabeth Feinler who helped create the first domain names, women have been a huge part of every significant milestone in web development. These women joined the ranks of pioneers who defied social convention to become database poets, information wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling shattering entrepreneurs.
Following her solo talk, Evans was joined by a panel of experts including president of UNSW's RoboGals Sandy Aung, best-selling author Ginger Gorman, cultural anthropologist Alexandra Zafiroglu, and science journalist Natasha Mitchell to discuss how women will continue to shape the technology of our future.
We need to stop looking at radical women from the past as sticker book role models. We need to understand that they are rich full people too, not infallible geniuses. None of the people from history were infallible geniuses… Ada Lovelace was an alcoholic and that’s ok!
People thought that the internet would be a utopia in the same way that we always approach new technologies and new possibilities.
Photo credit: Prudence Upton
This talk was chaired by science journalist Natasha Mitchell and was part of the program of events UNSW Sydney is presenting for the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week.