Lesser-known women in technology
September 15, 2014 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Who are some important women in technology that are lesser-known in the world? Especially women of color, LGBTQ women, and non-American women?

I'm currently editing profiles for a major project on women and technology, and am collecting suggestions for other women to profile. I'm especially interested in women of colour, LGBTQ women, and women outside the US and Europe (though they don't have to be exclusively from those categories). I'm also interested in women that are involved in tech but not directly with computers (e.g. gaming or arts).

So far we have:
Anita Borg
Ada Lovelace
Juliana Rotich
Rebecca Enonchong
Kimberly Bryant
Hind Hobeika
Rana el Kaliouby
Marissa Mayer
Limor Fried
Hypatia of Alexandria
Marie Curie
Wangari Maathai
Anandibai Joshi / Keiko Okami / Sabat Islambouli

The women can be historical or contemporary, alive or dead.
posted by divabat to Society & Culture (44 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
Grace Hopper
posted by erst at 1:11 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Angelica Ross of Trans Tech!
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2014

More science than technology: Caroline Herschel
posted by sparklemotion at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2014

Hedy Lamarr!
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:18 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh, and in gaming: Meritt Kopas and Anna Anthropy
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:21 PM on September 15, 2014

Math might be a stretch, but: Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win a Fields Medal.
posted by rhythm and booze at 1:22 PM on September 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sally Ride!
posted by jillithd at 1:23 PM on September 15, 2014

Rosalind Franklin, one of the key investigators in the understanding of DNA.
posted by ubiquity at 1:24 PM on September 15, 2014 [4 favorites]

Marie Curie's daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, was also no slouch.
posted by ubiquity at 1:26 PM on September 15, 2014

Delia Derbyshire

posted by hz37 at 1:27 PM on September 15, 2014

Lise Meitner
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:29 PM on September 15, 2014

Estelle Weyl
posted by homodachi at 1:47 PM on September 15, 2014

Radia Perlman
posted by thelonius at 1:47 PM on September 15, 2014

Dani Bunten
posted by johngoren at 1:48 PM on September 15, 2014

Ursula Franklin
posted by Sing Fool Sing at 2:06 PM on September 15, 2014

Danielle Fong

This is her company: Light Sail Energy

Though my understanding is she goes by Dani Fong.
posted by Michele in California at 2:09 PM on September 15, 2014

Katherine Johnson
posted by zamboni at 2:10 PM on September 15, 2014

The Roominate line of engineering toys for girls was started by two CalTech, MIT & Stanford engineers: Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen. I think they'd make two kick-ass subjects for a profile. Lots of press already.
posted by rada at 2:14 PM on September 15, 2014

Molly Holszchlag
posted by third word on a random page at 2:16 PM on September 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Beatrice Shilling OBE PhD MSc CEng (8 March 1909 – 18 November 1990) was an aeronautical engineer who was responsible for correcting a serious defect in the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine during the Second World War. She also was a well-known racing motorcyclist.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 2:45 PM on September 15, 2014

Jeannette Wing
posted by batter_my_heart at 2:56 PM on September 15, 2014

Would Susan Kare count?
posted by radioamy at 3:10 PM on September 15, 2014

Jacqueline Cochran
posted by SemiSalt at 4:15 PM on September 15, 2014

This is a poorly maintained list that's a good idea of what to work from. Raid conferences for their women speakers.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:15 PM on September 15, 2014

Kim Swift!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:12 PM on September 15, 2014

Any suggestions on women who are no longer alive, especially non-White/non-American ones?
posted by divabat at 5:12 PM on September 15, 2014

Still alive, and also a white American, but Martine Rothblatt, for sure, given that you specifically mentioned LGBTQ women.
posted by merejane at 7:29 PM on September 15, 2014

I am absolutely sure I saw something recent-ish about a black woman that I think is no longer alive (and I feel like I kept the link, though I can't find it). I want to say she was at NASA. I can't find anything that quite rings a bell, but my search did turn up this list of women.
posted by Michele in California at 7:32 PM on September 15, 2014

Still alive, but Lea Verou & Divya Manian are two of my favourite women.
posted by symphonicknot at 11:36 PM on September 15, 2014

A few names from astronomy (not sure if you are also looking for scientists):

Maria Cunitz (1610-1664, German)
Maria Winkelmann Kirch (1670-1720, German)
Caroline Herschel, mentioned above, and Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780-1872) were the first two women to be nominated for the Royal Astronomical Society.
The "Harvard Computers", including Henrietta Swan Leavitt, Antonia Maury, Annie Jump Cannon and Williamina Fleming.
posted by wavelette at 1:12 AM on September 16, 2014

Frances Hugle.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:05 AM on September 16, 2014

Barbara Liskov
Dina Katabi
Margo Seltzer
Jennifer Rexford
posted by gadha at 5:55 AM on September 16, 2014

You may find this list on Wikipedia helpful.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:12 AM on September 16, 2014

Adele Goldberg is, together with Alan Kay and Dan Ingalls, one of the principals of the team that created language Smalltalk.

Katherine Johnson was an African-American mathematician working for NASA on orbital calculations.

Programmer Reginald Braithwaite tells the lovely story of his African-American mother Gwen's rise through the ranks at IBM, plus her many other careers. What a woman. (Previously).
posted by kandinski at 6:50 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bebe Barron!
Daphne Oram! (non-American)
Both in music technology.
posted by gorbichov at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2014

If you are, in fact, interested in women in astronomy, there is also Vera Rubin (though she's white).

Katherine Johnson is the woman I was thinking of (mentioned in my last comment). The link above is a duplicate of Adele Goldberg's Wikipedia page. So here is the correct link.
posted by Michele in California at 9:25 AM on September 16, 2014

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, physicist, astronomer and, after Patrick Moor's death, one of the presenters of The Sky at Night on the BBC.

The fact that she's dyslexic, the black British child of divorced Nigerian parents, and very, very girly, makes her career path all the more interesting. From The Guardian: At one of her last schools, back in London again with her father, they hadn't received a letter from her previous school – where she had been put in remedial classes – so they asked her which sets she should be in and she told them the top ones. Given this opportunity, she worked hard to stay there and thrived. At 14, she found an evening class where she learned how to make her own telescope, and spent months carefully polishing a mirror for it.
posted by glasseyes at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am not 100% clear on what you mean by "women in tech," but, as I understand it, Temple Grandin has designed something like half of the ... maybe cattle slaughtering houses?

I don't even know the word I want here. She designed the chutes and stuff the cows walk through on the way to slaughter and has designed kosher slaughtering set-ups and the like. There is a lot of machinery involved, but, also, she is kind of an expert in cow psychology. At one plant, they were considering tearing the entire thing down and starting over because they could not get the cows to even go into the place. The hired Temple Grandin, she came out, looked around, talked to folks, etc. and then opened a very large garage-style door (iirc) on one side of the building to flood the place with light and the cows began filing in. Cows will not go into dark places.

She's done a lot of interesting work.
posted by Michele in California at 9:57 AM on September 16, 2014

Dr. Hiranya Peiris, Reader in Astronomy at UCL. TED talk from 2011.

Emilie du Chatelet, 1706-1749, friend of Voltaire, physicist and mathematician, died in childbirth at age 42.
posted by glasseyes at 10:04 AM on September 16, 2014

I may have misunderstood the question, in which case, sorry!
posted by glasseyes at 10:08 AM on September 16, 2014

Mary Anderson, inventor of the windshield wiper.
posted by Wet Spot at 5:18 PM on September 16, 2014

Lynn Conway
posted by rux at 8:12 PM on September 16, 2014

Thanks everyone!

I'm Best-Answering the people that we know are definitely in the project: we write up the profiles of historical people, while we'll be contacting those that are still alive to see if they'd like to write up something of their own.

I am definitely noticing a huge gap in Latin American women in our list, so if you have any suggestions for Central & South American women in STEM (which we can interpret more broadly than just "tech") feel free to share.
posted by divabat at 11:18 AM on September 18, 2014

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