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When I grew up I thought a computer had no gender

When I grew up I thought a computer had no gender

Claire Evans Author of "Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet." Mar 8 23:00 min

Read podcast transcript

In the occasion of the International Women’s Day, we had the pleasure of interviewing Claire L. Evans. She’s a remarkable woman: musician, singer, journalist and she’s also the author of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet.

> The reason and mission of the book – Min 1

In the podcast, Claire tells us how she grew up into tech as her father was an engineer. “When I grew up I thought a computer had no gender” she said. But society bias and inequality later taught her otherwise : she felt a distance between technology and women and, as a journalist, she started looking into the hidden stories of women in tech to bring them back into light. 

The more she was looking into these stories, the more she realized there were hundreds of women who made fundamental contributions to the internet, as important as Steve Job’s ones. This is how the idea of her book was born, from the sense of solidarity across history that can bring women in tech together today. 

> The importance of history in tech – Min 7

But how did history forget about the key role women played in technology? 

Internet is the culprit. At the very beginning of the computer industry, before the 70s, programming was seen as women’s work, a mix between mental and labor work. Only with the rise of modern computing, as a real business that make people earn money, programming became a valuable and desirable job. This is when women started to be pushed out. 

Min 10

At the same time, women who were actually working and making progress, didn’t have the time to write about their accomplishments, and even when they had the opportunity to do so, they didn’t feel empowered enough to underline their achievements and ask for recognition. This is a recurring theme that often works as a barrier to gender equality. A barrier we need to demolish. 

Min 15

Claire underlines how learning history and understanding it is fundamental to make progress, especially in the technology industry, where we are so projected towards the future and we forget so quickly about the past. But we should never forget that looking at past mistakes helps us to challenge the status quo and really make a change. 

> The role of men in the tech industry – Min 20

This is what Claire’s book aims for: educating people in the tech industry or not and empowering women by giving them a sense of belonging and pride. But the book is not for women only: men in the tech industry are in a position of power and they should be the first ones to read about women in tech to gain a new perspective about diversity in the industry and hire and promote more women in the ranks. 

> The importance of diversity – Min 26

Diversity is key, it brings new ideas, it builds softwares made for everyone, it provides inclusion, it avoids bias and exclusion.

The software is as important as the hardware, but it is easily forgotten because it’s not visible and it’s far behind the machines we use every day. We should never forget that the human side and the personalities of people brings a lot to the table : 75 of the exact same personality is not going to build great things and it’s ridiculous to reject someone which doesn’t fit the culture. Culture is fluid.

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