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Female Developers Who Double as Role Models

Flatiron School / 20 June 2013

The following is a guest post by Kirin Masood and originally appeared on her blog. Kirin is currently a student at The Flatiron School. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Somewhere between running around in playgrounds and earning diplomas girls either lose interest or fail to become interested in a career in programming. Girls are using all of the apps, social media tools, and products, but it seems as if only a small fraction actually builds and develops software.

It’s clear that there are many, many reasons for the general underrepresentation of females in the programming realm. Through my own experiences and some research that I’ve done it seems as if one of the contributing factors may be the fact that there is a lack of female role models. This inspired me to create my own list of female programmers who I find inspiring.

But first I just have to share this. While I was doing some research I ran a Google search on female programmers. That search didn’t help me find the information I was looking for, so I decided to peruse the related searches section. Much to my horror I found this:

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Just take a look at the first link. Sigh….I have nothing else to say about this.

Anyways, back to my list:

One: Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper’s nickname is “Amazing Grace” and she is definitely amazing. if you need proof you will not have to look any further than her interview with David Letterman. You can find it on YouTube somewhere. Her accomplishments include developing COBOL, coining the term ‘debugging’, and developing the first compiler. In addition, she’s received over 40 honorary degrees and was a United States Navy Rear Admiral.

Two: Sandi Metz

I’m on track to learn Rails, and since Sandi Metz was one of the first Rails users she has to have a spot on my list. Sandi Metz is definitely an expert when it comes to programming and she’s a pioneer in the field. I had the pleasure of hearing Sandi speak when she stopped by The Flatiron School a few weeks ago. She spoke about fear being a motivator and learning how to deal with failure.

Three: Gwen Bell

A few weeks ago, Gwen Bell also stopped by The Flatiron School. She’s incredibly passionate, confident, and also very into Git. If you go to her website you’ll be greeted with the wonderful phrase of, “Konnichiwa bitches”. How amazing is that? Gwen Bell’s a technical writer and a programmer whose work can be found at gwenbell.com.

Four: Ellen Ullman

Another writer, Ellen Ullman was a programmer who worked in programming in the late 70s and beyond. Her work has been featured in Wired, NYTimes, Salon, NPR, and Harper’s Magazine. She is also the author of two novels. Her work explores the human aspect of computer programming. She recently wrote a great article that appeared in the opinion section of the NYTimes that specifically provided some guidance for current female programmers.

Five: Marissa Mayer

It seems as if we’re always discussing CEOs whether it be Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, or Sergey Brin. Those guys are great, but it’s great to hear Marissa Mayer’s name in the mix now too. Mayer is the current CEO of Yahoo! She was also the 20th hire at Google and the first female engineer at Google.

Nice start, right? This is just the beginning of my list. I hope to add more as time goes on.

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