Each year, March 8 represents a special day for women around the globe. International Women’s Day was officially acknowledged by the United Nations in 1975. However, it stems from much earlier efforts. What began as Women’s Day in New York on February 28, 1909, evolved into the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conference’s suggestion to hold the day annually on March 8.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we look specifically at women in tech and their terrific achievements throughout the digital age both currently and historically.
Women in tech history
While Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer are making their mark on tech in the current day, women in tech were actually much more prominent in the 1960s when up to 50% of computer scientists were women. Ada Lovelace, a founder of computer programming, created the first algorithm in 1987 and The Bletchley Park code crackers were instrumental during WWII. Jean E. Sammet developed the first computing language while working at IBM and was the first woman ever awarded a Ph.D. in computer science in 1968.
“Only 20% of tech jobs are curently held by women.” – Smallbiztrends.com
So what happened to the astounding numbers of women in tech? Why are the current numbers so abysmal? Well, the answer is complex and multi-faceted. However, it is assumed that gender stereotypes regarding roles like ‘Engineer’ and ‘Computer Science’ have led women away from the field. In addition, in the tech industry, the quit rate for women is twice as high as it is for men in the same roles. On the bright side, with the tech industry booming it is becoming more common for women to be recruited for tech roles, even if their backgrounds began somewhere else.
An Evening with Women in Tech
Our parent company, The Hut Group (THG) recently hosted An Evening with Women in Tech at our tech headquarters in MediaCityUK. The event featured ten outstanding women in tech from all areas of THG. We caught up with one inspirational woman in tech, Hafsah Asmat, and asked her a few questions about her journey to the tech industry.
Q: Hafsah, what is your role with THG?
Hafsah: I am a technical project manager and the only woman on my team. I work on various tech projects, usually more than a few at a time. My team works to create new functionality on the THG tech platform. This includes building, testing, and deploying new sites for THG brands.
Q: What brought you to the tech industry?
Hafsah: I began in a Chemical Engineering background. However, I became interested in tech during an engineering and technology innovation competition where I became a semi-finalist.
Q: Do you have any advice to give women in tech?
Hafsah: My advice to women is to explore the tech industry. There is so much more available than the typical software engineer role. Don’t focus your career search outside of tech. Odds are that there are roles that use your key skills while blending tech attributes. Women who are interested in design, analysis, architecture, or solutions, there is a tech role for you.
Q: What’s the best part of being a woman in tech?
Hafsah: I love the support I get in the tech industry. Recently there is a big push to encourage women in tech and support them in their goals. It’s been amazing to be a part of this new innovation. I firmly believe that women are becoming more attracted to tech and I can’t wait to watch it evolve.
Thanks Hafsah. We appreciate your willingness to sit with us today and shine a light on exceptional women in the tech industry.