Women were programming pioneers. Ada Lovelace is recognised as the world’s first programmer. In the nineteenth century she wrote the instructions which could activate Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Her feat is recognised today through the Ada Lovelace Day which falls on 15th October in 2013.
It was not until the mid-twentieth century that computing really took off. The ENIAC computer developed during WWII is recognised as the first electronic computer. The entire ENIAC programming team were women. Grace Hopper wrote the first automatic compiler and led the development of the COBOL programming language which went on to become one of the world’s most popular business programming languages.
Yet the proportion of women programming has declined over the last couple of decades. Today women are only a small proportion of software developers. There has been much wringing of hands about this, but wringing of hands does not achieve anything other than warm up our hands.
One development community is taking action to increase the numbers of women in website development. I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in one of their events earlier this month.
Ruby on Rails is a popular development framework that is used to create websites. The Rails community has supported a training program for women called Rails for Girls. It started in Finland and is now well established in many countries including Australia.
I was fortunate enough to be able to participate in one of their introductory workshops in Canberra recently. Continue reading