Women in Technology (Ada Lovelace Day)

Ada LovelaceToday is Ada Lovelace Day. Ada Lovelace was the “first computer programmer“, and an inspiration to techie women the world over. The idea for Ada Lovelace Day is to highlight the role of women in tech, flagging up particular women who we find most inspiring.

The tricky thing for me here – especially with regards to social media – is that MOST of the people who inspire me in the field are women. Bloggers, designers, users, video people, twitterers, PRs, journalists… there are loads of ’em.

So let me list a few, with a note about how they inspire me:

Darika Ahrens gets PR. She REALLY gets it. She understands the relationship between the Marketing and PR worlds and this new scary social media world of blogs and sharing and recommendations and communities better than anyone I’ve ever come across. Any time anyone comes to me with a PR-related social media question, I go to her.

Joanna Geary – until last week, she worked at the Birmingham Post, and took a regional newspaper into a whole new international digital space via her knowledge and use of blogging, twittering, video, etc. Joanna’s interview with an anonymous blog commenter is one of the smartest moves I’ve ever seen a journalist make in social media.

Joanne Jacobs is a Tuttle-buddy, who I knew for a long time before I really started reading her blog. But when I did, I discovered she’s one of the sharpest commentators and theorists on social media and business that I’ve come across. Proper clever!

I doubt I recommend any single person for work as much as I do Josie Fraser – she really is THE go-to person for information on children on the web, privacy issues, and how to talk to the government about such things. She consults far and wide on a whole range of social media issues, and is quite simply brilliant.

And of course, my lovely wife Lobelia – as a musician/blogger she has possibly the most consistently authentic voice of any musician I know that also writes about what they do. She’s a mine of amazing information and quotes about social media, and is most often the person I go to to bounce ideas off, and tell me if I’m talking balls, given that she’s not even remotely impressed by gadgetry that isn’t useful.

There’s five. I could write about Jo Twist and Jamillah Knowles doing great things at the BBC, or Annie Boccio and Tracy Apps doing great web design-y things, podcasting and video-blogging… but where would I stop? There are loads.

The point being, when there’s no institutionalised gender disparity, being a women makes no qualitative difference at all. All of these women are fantastically motivated, some have probably overcome the sexism of the industry they work in, the others have just got on with being brilliant and ignored the whole ‘ah, I see you have breasts, you must be a writer about women’s issues then‘ nonsense.

Thank God we live in a time when so many areas of work are dispensing with outmoded notions of sexism, and are open to talented women doing the work they do well. But it’s worth recognising that in many industries that’s still not even close to being the case. There’s a wage disparity, infrastructural male-centricity and unwritten policies of hiring women for secretarial posts and men for ‘proper’ jobs. It’s horrible, stupid and pointless, so let’s fight it, and practice equality in our own lives.