Today, 24th March, is Ada Lovelace Day, an idea from Suw Charman-Anderson for people to celebrate the women in technology whom they admire. Amongst the aims are to provide role models for women in technology, and to celebrate inspirational women in technology. Both of these are great aims (and this approach strikes me as considerably more practical and sane than getting only women together for some tech love-in, or having serious round-table discussions about how to get more women into tech jobs).
But I'm not going to write about a leading woman in technology, either now or in the past. I want to spend a few quick words stating, flatly, that the women I've worked with on technology projects (be they programmers, designers, product folk, customer service people, or going right back to school and the girls I did experiments with in my A-level chemistry class1) have been, with very few exceptions, talented, dedicated, interesting and passionate people. Almost all have inspired me to be better at what I do; and many have challenged me at some point or other, forcing me to think again when I was certain I was right, or to consider a different perspective when I thought there was only one valid viewpoint. I can say that of far fewer of the men I've worked with2.
I could spend half an hour drawing up a list of those women, but I'd be bound to leave some out. Come talk to me about them, or perhaps check out who I follow on twitter and find some to inspire you as well. I would be poorer without any one of them.
1 With them, not on them. They were entirely willing to play reflux reactions with me.
2 Although it's possible that I just ignored more of the men. I don't react well to declarative statements I disagree with, which appears to be a more male way of trying to argue with me.