By Cecily Kellogg
Women have been forging new paths in technology for generations, each passing to the next their knowledge, inquisitiveness, and inspiration.
Like mothers, the developers of tomorrow’s technologies must pay attention to the details without ever losing sight of the big picture. And like the women who’ve gone before, they will open paths to understanding, solve the unsolvable, and integrate ideas to move humanity forward.
Technology: A Child of Many Mothers
Tech has many “mothers”—women who’ve brought us to a deeper understanding of our world, and technology’s role in it.
Hedy Lamarr is best remembered as a film star, but she was also an important scientist. Called the Mother of Wireless Technology, Lamarr in 1943 developed “frequency hopping” (now called spread spectrum tech)—the foundation of Wifi and GPS.
Engineer and mathematician Radia Perlman is often called the Mother of the Internet. Her algorithm solved a seemingly intractable problem, using what is now the spanning tree protocol. Her work is regarded as establishing the ground rules for the internet.
MIT’s Virginia Norwood, the Mother of Landsat, designed the first space-based multispectral scanner, and developed remote sensing satellite technology in worldwide use today.
Over time, the number of women in the tech field has grown profoundly, and multigenerational families of women in tech are now common. We asked some Teen Advisory Board (TAB) members from the CompTIA Spark TechGirlz program to share their thoughts on what it means to have a mother working in the technology industry. Here’s what they had to say:
What Do You Admire About Your Mom
Persistence and perseverance. Those two words arise often when our TAB members speak about their mothers. “Personally,” says Ava Saydam (daughter of Danica Pascavage-Saydam, a CompTIA Spark staff member), “I admire my mom’s persistence through times of adversity, such as being the only woman in her college classes.”
This sentiment is echoed by TAB member Sophia Tamburrina. “I admire my mother’s perseverance in the technology field.” she says, “She carries a lot of weight on her shoulders in a male-dominated field.”
“My mom was raised in a rural town in India,” says TAB member Alekhya Buragadda, “where there are strong stereotypical rules that prohibit women from obtaining higher education. However, my mother defied these gender norms and continued her education in technology through getting a bachelor’s degree.”
Advancing humanity and inspiring future generations are important to our TAB members. Saydam says her mom dedicates her time to “inspiring and improving the lives of future women in tech through [CompTIA Spark’s TechGirlz program], …so girls now will have better experiences than she did.” And Tamburrino notes that her mother “does work that I consider to be morally important, and it inspires me to want to do the same as an empowered woman like herself.”
Has Your Mom’s Tech Career Impacted How Much You Like Tech?
There’s no doubt that mothers inspire, but how much impact does a mother’s love of tech have on her daughters? “My mom is almost completely to thank for my own love of tech,” says Saydam. “She always encouraged me to explore STEM from a young age, enrolling me in [CompTIA Spark TechGirlz] workshops and motivating me to learn basic drag-and-drop block programming.”
Growing up with a mom in tech sparked Tamburrino’s interest from an early age. “During quarantine,” she says, “I was able to see bits and pieces of [my mother’s] day and the impactful things she creates. Understanding what my mom does at work allowed me to find a path of technology that I would like to pursue for a career as well.”
A mother’s love never stops. Women in technology continue to carry forward their love for technology to a new generation. “Even today [my mother] still provides support for me in my computer science and STEM classes, especially classes where there is a wide gender gap,” says Saydam. “I look up to my mom so much, and I hope that I can have a career that cultivates my love of tech as much as hers does in the future.”
Wishing you a very Happy Mother’s Day from the CompTIA Spark team!