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What if the internet was run by women?

30.06.2022 07:41 AM
What if the internet was run by women?
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What if the internet was run by women?

In every field, there are people whose names are shining and more popular than other people, and software engineering or computer engineering is like any field. The well-known names are men’s names, but in our article we will learn about 15 female personalities who contributed to the development of programs and the Internet:

"I think it is very important to have more women working in computers, my motto is: computers are too important to be left to men" Karen Spärck Jones.

To create the technology that lets you read these words on your screen today, thousands of people were involved. Many of them were women, including Radia Perlman (an American engineer and mathematician who helped make internet routing reliable and scalable), Karen Spärck Jones (the British computer scientist whose work underpins most search engines) and her compatriot Sophie Wilson (who was instrumental in designing the BBC Micro and the ARM microprocessors found in more than half the world's electronics today).

"Women were really instrumental in early computing and programming," says Mar Hicks, an associate professor of history at the Illinois Institute of Technology. 

But their efforts often went unrecognised, says Dame Stephanie Shirley, who founded an all-women's software company in the 1960s. And although a lot of women were involved, the design of the internet "was, of course, predominantly by men", she says.

While it's impossible to go back and alter history, this hypothetical question reveals how men have left indelible marks on the internet – from the way it's built and how it looks, to the means with which we use it to express ourselves and communicate with others. It's not a given, of course, that women and minorities at the top would necessarily have acted any different, but many believe they would have. If so, what would these different decisions have looked like? And would we have an alternative internet that is fairer and safer for everyone?


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