Woman in Tech
The International Day of Women and Girls in Science was implemented by UNESCO to recognize the critical role that females play in science and technology throughout the world and is celebrated on the 11th of February.
Most of the industries are male dominated but for many years, women have played an important part in it and they managed to stand out and cope with the pressure.
Mary Anderson is one example of a female figure in the automotive industry. In 1903 she patented the manual windshield wiper after driving on a trolley and noticing that the front window panels needed to be opened so that she could see the road. Then, in 1917, Charlotte Bridgwood upgraded Anderson’s invention by patenting electronically operated automatic wipers. Unfortunately, both patents expired, and the women’s work didn’t receive any praise.
We must give credit to Florence Lawrence’s ideas that we still use in our roads nowadays. Besides being a Hollywood star, she invented the car signaling features and the stop brake light at the back of the car.
Denise McCluggage was a racing driver, journalist, photographer and author. In the 50’s she became the first female driver to win the feature sports-car event at Thompson Raceway in Connecticut in a Porsche RS.
In 1974 the Volkswagen assembly line in Wolfsburg took a step forward, therefore being mentioned in a New York Times article, when the company abolished the lowest wage category, known as “women’s wage”. Moreover, women started to drive the finished automobiles off the conveyor belts to nearby parking lots, which was a men’s work only.
Additionally, a recent Expresso’s article shows that the labor market has changed since the 70s in Portugal. The active working female’s rate raised from 45.1% in 1983 to 54.3% in 2019, the last year before Covid-19 effects. More women, better education, strengthening the service’s weight and increased social protection were the main transformations.
Although women have made enormous progress towards increasing their participation in higher education, they are still under-represented in these fields. When we give an opportunity, people can rise and achieve great things regardless of their gender, age and race. The women presented above are one of our favourite examples of the past that we should follow in the present and, more importantly, in the future.
My name is Maria Inês Monteiro and I’m 29 years old and, talking about my personal experience, I had many influences from many different women. We all have our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, cousins and girlfriends but when I look back, I also remember my Math and Portuguese teachers at 9th grade that had a huge impact on my education, for example. Besides having regular lessons, I had a portfolio where I would present the history behind numbers such as the Pi number and the Golden ratio, and I would also read a book each month and present it to the class.
When I went to university, I moved from Braga to Lisbon where I enrolled in an Engineering school where most of the students were men. Fortunately, I can say that it was an amazing experience where I always felt at ease. I’ve been working for three years now, and, in my opinion, women have the same rights as men at work. We give the same number of opportunities and responsibilities no matter the ‘gender’. Moreover, I’ve joined VWDS in September last year and I’m in an open environment where I can share my opinions that will lead me to thrive and reach my personal and team goals.
My name is Ana Isabel Fernandes, and I’m 43 years old. I witnessed the beginning of the tech era, but when I was a teenager cell phones and internet where not part of our existence yet. So, my plans didn’t pass through technology, or nothing related. I chose Social Sciences because for me, life was about people. Technology was advancing in a still slow and silent way and when it began to enter our lives, we realized we were dependent on something that until a few years ago was unknown but became a magic new world!
The years have passed, and I am a person with a background in social sciences, I am a mother, and I work in IT. The world of IT is very democratic, so being from social sciences, or another area than the computer area, isn’t relevant – there is room for everyone and that is one of the things that make this job very interesting, because it brings together people with different perspectives.
Being a mother while working in IT, that’s the real challenge. This area and children have a lot in common, both are: challenging, grow fast, change even faster, but are never dull.
In the early days I had to make difficult choices, because in IT the speed combined with quality, is time and energy consuming. Over time I learned that the key is balance and time management, but until I get to that point I’ve lost some moments with my son, but like everything in life we learn: grow, and try to do different next time.
If I could go back, would I change my job? Definitely not. I learn new things every day, there is never a boring moment, and in that point, it is very similar with maternity.
On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science we want to raise awareness for gender equality and women empowerment. Women and girls can make a crucial contribution and together we can work to have a better world where we feel safe and heard.