Rajeswari S

“She is water. Powerful enough to drown you, soft enough to cleanse you, deep enough to save you” – Anonymous.

Yes, she has proven this time and again. Poets compare women to the moon, oceans, and nature. I don’t think they do it just for the sake of it. She is rightfully called so for her supremacy, magnanimity, profundity and omnipresence. I dedicate this article to all those women.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on the 8th of March every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. Commemoration of International Women’s Day ranges from being a public holiday in some countries to being largely ignored elsewhere. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood.

Even as a homemaker, a woman is a blessing, who pillars anything accomplished by her family members. She earnestly compliments their lives. If her contributions are immense behind the scenes, can she be overlooked when she steps out to take on more responsibilities? You name a field, she is already there – IT, show business, sports, business, medicine, law, space, the list is endless! They have come out of their cocoons to prove themselves as masters of all trades. Women’s partaking and influence on a society and its economy is enormous.

Equal work opportunities, access to services, physical safety, legal and political representation are still weighing down a woman from realizing her full potential.

“Cultural norms still militate against equality…India has a considerable way to travel to match the best performance in the region on the female-to-male labor-force participation rate, maternal mortality, financial and digital inclusion, the sex ratio at birth, and violence against women,” stated a McKinsey report.

If despite these, she exhibits her values to society and country, isn’t she unstoppable!?

While we speak of women’s contribution to economy and technology in recent days, I would like to introduce you to a few eminent women who have pioneered technology in their own fields. Did you know, women during WWII have supported artillery machines and gunnery officers by calculating variances in temperatures and air density to improve shot accuracy?

Learn about these SHEroes, who were among the firsts in their fields; the list is not exhaustive though:

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was an English mathematician and writer. Her contribution to the field of computer programming was recognized posthumously and had also earned her the title of being the first computer programmer.

Grace Hopper (1906–1992) joined the U.S. Navy during World War II and was assigned to program the Mark I computer. After the war ended, she continued working on computing. She led the team that created the first computer language compiler, which led to the popular COBOL language. She also is known as the “mother of computing”

Margaret Hamilton wrote the software code used for the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1960, which guaranteed Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin safe passage to the moon and back. Hamilton was still criticized for her career choice, forsaking the traditional role of running a household full time. Developers, and the larger tech industry, should be thankful for Hamilton’s contributions. Did you know she coined the phrase ‘software engineering’?

Mary Allen Wilkes helped develop what is now considered the first ‘personal computer’. She worked on the LINC computer as a programmer and instructions author. She is credited with writing the LINC’s operating program manual, and she was also the programmer of the LAP6 operating system for the LINC. She later revealed in an interview, that she actually took the LINC home with her in order to write the operating system, helping to make working remotely a reality for so many of us today. So, now you know who to thank for the ‘’Work from home’’ concept!

Angelica Ross a transgender woman, is among the leading advocates for transgender opportunities in tech. Ross is the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, focusing on “lifting people out of poverty” through social work and technical training, and helping gender-nonconforming people get opportunities in technical roles.

Karen Spärck Jones is the reason why Googling is a part of our daily activities. She made breakthrough discoveries in the field of natural language processing, that led to the subsequent development of search engines. She was recruited to Cambridge into the “Language Research Unit” by another female professor, Margaret Masterman. She introduced the use of thesauri into language processing, which allows computational recognition of similar words. She also introduced the idea and methods of “term weighting” in information retrieval, which helped queries determine which terms were the most relevant.

Katherine Johnson was a NASA mathematician whose calculations helped propel not only the first Americans to space but also many other breakthroughs in space exploration. She paved the way for women and people of colour in her field. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions in 2015.  She has the honour of a book and movie by the name ‘Hidden Figures’ to commemorate her life and work.

Who can forget Kalpana Chawla, and the inspirational NASA astronaut Christina Koch who spent 11 months in Earth’s orbit. They have shown the world, sky is not the limit! Born to a humble family, should we not celebrate Shivangi Swaroop from Bihar, India, who has joined the Indian Navy as the first female pilot! Then there is Biocon’s Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar Shaw declared the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 for innovation and enabled affordable, life-saving medicines through her strong investments in research.

While we are celebrating women, it would be unjust to not speak about the men who’ve supported all of them. As Indian singer, Usha Uthup said, “My husband has contributed so much to my success by not contributing; just leaving me to do what I want!” All the men out there, take a bow!

Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and activist once explained, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” We have achieved many milestones and are well on our way to achieve many more. Kudos to all the humans who cared for each other!

Let’s make the International Women’s Day our day and help women flourish. Let’s work together to exhibit our prowess in every arena; let not women be the enemy of women, let’s take an oath to save and protect women from all the endangers she is exposed to, let us show the world that our mind is the true muscle!

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About the Author:

Working in IP, into Content Development with 13 years of Technical, Content and Creative Writing background. Five months old at GAVS. Off-work, passionate about singing, music, creative writing; love highway drive, a movie buff.