She’s In CTRL author Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon: women erased in tech

She’s In CTRL author Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon: women erased in tech

by Suswati Basu
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“Woman in Tech, we say, is a joke”, says She’s In CTRL author Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, speaking at London’s The Trouble Club. The computer scientist discussed her career in STEM and how the industry is evolving and her new book, in which she draws on her own experience. It also showcases the stories of other pioneers and innovators to provide examples, exercises and practical guidance for how women and minorities can get started and take control of the tech world.

Imafidon is no stranger to the world of tech, having been a child prodigy. She was admitted to the University of Oxford at the age of 15. She graduated with a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science. Following her studies, she worked in various technology-related roles, including positions at Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard, and Deutsche Bank. She’s also the co-founder of award-winning social enterprise the Stemettes, which aims to support young women pursuing careers in STEM.

It’s hardly surprising, She’s In CTRL looks at the underrepresentation of women in the tech industry and how women can take back control of their careers in tech.

 “It’s not about loving all of math. It’s about knowing the bits that you do understand, knowing that they probably are bits that you enjoy in the math and able to lean into that.”

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon

What did author Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon say about She’s In CTRL?

For Dr Imafidon, inspiring women to take up STEM subjects and break barriers is essential to make a difference. Speaking to The Trouble Club director Eleanor Newton, she said: “When you peel it back, it’s like, no, this is not a new thing that women do tech. And it’s why the subtitle (for the book) is women take back tech.”

Hedy Lamarr

When discussing the book, she highlights a number of incredible women who have been forgotten from herstory, including Austrian-born American film actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, who was a film star Hollywood’s golden age. Lamarr made significant contributions to the field of technology and engineering. As a matter of fact, she co-invented a frequency-hopping spread spectrum technology, which laid the foundation for modern-day wireless communication and served as a precursor to technologies like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS.

During World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed the concept of frequency hopping as a means to create secure and interference-resistant communication for torpedoes. Their invention involved rapidly changing the frequency of a radio signal to prevent it from being intercepted or jammed by enemies. They received a patent for their invention in 1942, which became the basis for many subsequent developments in wireless communication. Today, Lamarr’s invention plays a vital role in modern wireless communication systems, including military communication, cell phones, Wi-Fi networks, and other wireless technologies.

Gladys West

Other prominent women included American mathematician Gladys West, who was one of the pioneering contributors to the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Although her contributions to GPS were significant, Gladys West’s work remained relatively unknown for many years. It wasn’t until 2018, at the age of 87, that she was recognised and honoured for her pioneering work when she was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame.

Ada Lovelace

And we can’t forget Ada Lovelace, who is often regarded as the world’s first computer programmer. Lovelace’s work was groundbreaking and laid the foundation for the development of computer programming. She recognised that computers could be used for more than just arithmetic, foreseeing the possibilities of programming and the concept of software.

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon on women’s erasure

Speaking about all the women who have disappeared from our books, she said: “There’s so much that we’ve done so instrumental that we’ve been and the erasure of that first three means that the Gladyses, the Adas are not able to step into what they feel like. They’re the first ever. They feel like they’re the only they feel alone, they feel alienated. It’s pretty much just the dead white guys with beards that we love about the tech.”

“That story has lived on so much that we literally mean it when we say football’s coming home. That’s just one story. And football still hasn’t come home.”

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon

As a result, she criticised the emphasis on men in the field, and the fact that stories are important, otherwise British fans would not still be chanting “football’s coming home” since England’s 1966 World Cup win. And if England’s women’s team wins the football this summer – she reminds us to never forget their story.

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