I’m late, but haven’t forgotten my pledge to blog on Ada Lovelace day! I did include, in a talk that I gave this morning on social media, and to wish everyone a merry. I included the image above in my preso.
This year, I’d like to honor my own cohort in technology, and the many women I’ve worked with on the “support and services” side of technology. As many of you may know, I began my career in technology as a technical editor at IBM. IBM sent me to programming school in the 706 building in Poughkeepsie, New York, for a total of 24 weeks one long winter many years ago. On completion of my training in software programming, I was offered a choice of jobs: as a programmer, or as a writer. The programming manager was really up front: the job he had was pretty boring, nuts and bolts stuff. The writing manager offered me the opportunity to develop users’ guides and to put my stamp on how I thought technical writing should be done. Guess you know which path I took. (Well, I did do some engineering later on, but only to advance technologies in support of producing higher-quality documents.)
And I never looked back, even though I continued to work in an industry that valued the “real engineers” over those those who made the engineering products actually usable and useful. I’ve had the good fortune to work with people in the training and information sciences areas as well as in my native “documentation” specialty. These disciplines, like technical writing, were not dominated by women, but women were well represented in these fields, particularly in higher levels of management. They are the ones who have often been the singular woman on an all-male staff in a highly technical company, who have had to stand their ground often in defense of the value that their groups brought to the company, and who have made technology friendly. Curiously (or not) I have seen that these three fields — information sciences, technical writing, and training and development — have (together with consulting practices) provided fertile ground and expertise in the field we now know as knowledge management.
These women have been my role models, my mentors, and my friends. Today, on Ada Lovelace day, I salute them.