Computing is too important to be left to men…

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Ada Lovelace invented the idea of software in 1843 at the age of 28 when working with Charles Babbage on his Analytical engine. The first pioneer in computing was a woman and we have had many more female computing pioneers since then: the women at Bletchley Park; Dina St Johnston who set up the UK’s first software house in 1959; Dame Stephanie Shirley who’s company employed women, mainly working from home in the 1960s, training them to write software including the Concorde black box flight recorder; and Karen Spark Jones, a pioneer in search algorithms who’s quote “Computing is too important to be left to men” is the title of this piece. And that’s just in the UK, there are many women tech pioneers across the globe.

I first realised that I needed to get involved in supporting and raising the profile of women in tech during my PhD in software engineering in the 1990s. I found out that talking to men at conferences about my research could be misconstrued which led to me not finding tech conferences an enjoyable experience. Attending a women in science conference some months later I was amazed to find that I could enjoy conferences, meet some great people and have interesting conversations. Being in the majority makes life so much easier. Being in a minority can make something that seems simple difficult.

I set up BCSWomen, the UK’s first online network for women in computing in 1998 as a result of my experiences. The idea being to provide a space for women to discuss the topics we cared about in technology with other women. I’m very proud of the fact that BCSWomen still provides a women only space where anything and everything related to technology is discussed. BCSWomen has supported hundreds of women over the last 19 years.

I’m so delighted BCS continues to take a lead in investigating, researching and publishing data around the situation not just for gender but diversity in general in our industry. We need a more diverse industry so that we can create better products and services for everyone. Take the example of the automated point of sale machines in supermarkets. I’m sure we have all experienced the “unexpected item in the bagging area” moment of frustration. Do you think the team that developed those automated POS machines was diverse? Do you think there were people on the team that shopped regularly in a supermarket? I’m guessing not.

Diversity is important for everyone. Only when we have diverse teams, diverse workforces, diverse experiences contributing to creating diverse products and services will we be creating products and services that are fit for all of us. Diversity brings strength.

Technology is such an exciting area to be in. Working in the tech industry we understand the world and the opportunities around us in a way that many others are as yet able to see without our help. We owe it to everyone else to take a lead in this area, so that they can follow.

You could say that this report paints a dismal picture in terms of diversity and women in tech, we are nowhere near 50/50 male to female in the industry. But I believe that we are at a tipping point of a revolution in technology and also in awareness of the importance of diversity. I’ve seen massive change over the last few years in attitudes towards diversity in tech, from being asked when setting up BCSWomen in 1997: “Why are you ghettoising yourself?”

I now regularly get asked: “How can we encourage more women to work in our tech department?”

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Things are changing and this report gives us the data we need to measure and evaluate progress highlighting areas of concern and areas of success that we can celebrate along the way.

Let’s take our lead from this report and use it to create a a more diverse, more successful tech industry in the UK. We owe it to Ada, Dina, Dame Stephanie, Karen and everyone who has worked hard to make the UK tech industry what it is today.

Dr. Sue Black OBE FBCS

 

BCS report: Diversity in IT 2017

 

“Thank You – I am a domestic violence survivor” Why speaking out matters #GHC17 #womenintech #DV @womensaid

I spoke about some of the very difficult times in my life at Grace Hopper conference this year and my journey from a place of violence through to where and who I am today. It’s been a long and winding road, but I made it.

Since I spoke at Grace Hopper, receiving the #ABIE17 social impact award I’ve had lots of lovely feedback from so many people. A few people have written to me to tell me what they have done since hearing my talk and it absolutely makes my day to know that I have made an impact on them. Here are one or two below. Thank you so much to the people who took the time to write to me.

Here’s a link to my speech at 1:16:35 scroll down to the GHC Wednesday 17 keynote.

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Thank You – I am a domestic violence survivor

I heard you speak at Grace Hopper in Orlando. I am a domestic violence survivor and your speech motivated me to do something that I have been thinking about for years. I am taking my first step to start paying forward and I am working with leaders in my organization to start helping me to keep the human connection alive in the world of technology and help men and women stand tall and be confident after experiences like domestic violence. I am fortunate I got help and found my path of peace and success. I want to thank you to help motivate me to start working on something that means a lot of me and I am passionate about.

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I first wanted to congratulate your for your great work ! What I really liked about you is that apart from being a strong woman that you are, you were very humble with your cute giggles on the applause you received 🙂 You re-instated the belief that you first need to be a good person before achieving anything in this world. Many girls like myself were inspired by you, your speech, your work. I truly want to Thank you.

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70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park in 2009 #Bpark

8 years ago today was the 70th anniversary Enigma reunion at Bletchley Park.
The the wonderful Maggie Philbin and many other awesome people Christian Payne, Kate Arkless Gray, Benjamin Ellis, Hannah Nicklin, Matt Rawlinson and Steve Lawson, came up to Bletchley Park with me to interview as many veterans as possible to capture their memories of their time working on cracking the codes during WW2.
Here with Maggie is the phenomenal codebreaker Captain Jerry Roberts RIP, wonderful man and great family friend.
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We had an absolutely wonderful day with the hundreds of veterans that came along spending the whole day capturing as much as possible for posterity.
I had started a campaign to save Bletchley Park the previous year in July 2008 and met quite a few veterans, but this was the first time that I really got to meet hundreds of veterans and hear at first hand so many of their amazing stories.
Here are some photos from the day taken by Benjamin Ellis and Steve Lawson. There are many more, check out all the #bpark70 pics from the day on Flickr.
Here are a few of the interviews conducted that day in 2009.

I chatted to Hannah, giving an overview the day and speaking about the amazing discussions we had all had with the veterans.

Christian Payne interviewed many veterans on the day. Here are just some of his interviews. Enjoy 🙂

Interview by Christian with Bletchley Park veteran Margaret Warner of the WAAF:

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Kathleen Saunders

Christian interviews Bletchley Park veteran Captain Jerry Roberts

Christian interviews Bletchley Park radio security intercept officer Alan Gordon Jackson

For more stories about Bletchley Park and the campaign we ran to save it check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

US Amazon link here: Saving Bletchley Park 

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Interviews with Bletchley Park veterans at Bletchley Park Enigma Reunion in 2010 #bpark2010

In September 2010 I was campaigning hard for Bletchley Park to be saved. I had started the campaign in 2008 after finding out that Bletchley Park were having financial difficulties and may have to close.

The whole story of the campaign along with the history of Bletchley Park, the women of Bletchley Park, Alan Turing, Enigma and much more are in my book Saving Bletchley Park. Saving Bletchley Park currently has 63 five star reviews on Amazon UK.

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Some awesome people came with me on Enigma Reunion day 2010 to interview veterans that came along on the day including former head of GCHQ Sir Arthur Bonsall. Below are a few of those interviews conducted by @radiokate and @ALRanson. Which is your favourite?

 

If you would like to know more about Bletchley Park and the campaign to save it do check out my book Saving Bletchley Park.

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Turning pain into joy, 8 years on from the day our brother left us

Awesome trip to Hampshire for our brother Stephen's memorial day yesterday. Can't believe it's 8 years already since my little bro went. Glad that we can now celebrate his life and our own lives now ❤️ Thanks to my awesome sister Sarah, Daisy, Leah and Lesley and family for making it such a special day. Special mention for amazing great aunt Molly now 97 years old ❤️

Loved visiting our gorgeous Nan Elsie Leah Reynold's grave, gravestone finally now in place and leaving some flowers 🌺 Also loved visiting the church where Sarah, Stephen and I were christened inthe 1960s and having a good chat with the vicar who kindly took a pic of us 🙏🏼 #turningpainintojoy ❤️

Me on @BBCWorld news talking about the #Googlememo, #womenintech and #whitemaleprivilege

I was interviewed by Aaron Heslehurst for his Talking Business show on BBC World News channel yesterday about the memo “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” written and shared internally by a Google engineer.

“The author argues that women are underrepresented in tech not because they face bias and discrimination in the workplace, but because of inherent psychological differences between men and women. “We need to stop assuming that gender gaps imply sexism,” he writes, going on to argue that Google’s educational programs for young women may be misguided.”

My main points:

  1. He has no idea what he’s talking about, he’s not a woman in tech and is displaying a classic case of #whitemaleprivilege
  2. “For those used to privilege, equality looks like oppression”
  3. It’s wonderful that we can now discuss these issues openly, it’s the first big step towards an equal society that cares about everyone not just the privileged few
  4. It’s great that the media now think of this as an issue, just a few years ago that wouldn’t have been the case, I’ve been in the #womenintech space for 25+ years and even though the change happening is ridiculously slow I’m delighted to see it finally start speeding up
  5. Mainstream media are becoming supportive of equality and feminism
  6. Many people in our society are backward looking and change averse like this engineer (and his country’s president), for us on this planet to have a successful future we need to work together to ensure that EVERYONE has equal opportunity
  7. Our society is misogynist, which is bad for women and men
  8. Engineering and software engineering are about cooperation and people skills as much if not more so than coding. It’s been shown time and again that one of the main reasons IT projects fail is because of the lack of communication in one way or another.
  9. Ada Lovelace invented the very idea of software (did her brain have “biological differences”?) and we have many amazing women in tech pioneers e.g. the incredible Dame Stephanie Shirley who set up F International 300+ women coding from home in the 1960s. They wrote the Concorde black box flight recorder software for example.
  10. We need quotas short term to redress the balance, to create a level playing field.
  11. It’s not about men vs women but about being enlightened and forward thinking rather than change averse and backward thinking white male privilege.
  12. It’s social conditioning, we know that behaviours that are seen as assertive in men can be seen as bossy in women
  13. It not about men vs women its about those that want to create the best products and services and see that change needs to happen for that to be the outcome and those that are change averse and have the privilege of being in the majority.
  14. I’ve been hearing this shit since I got into tech in 1989, it’s time for CHANGE!

Need an inspiring and motivating tech speaker in Sept/Oct 2017? #tech #disruption

CALLING US BASED FRIENDS!! Need an inspiring and motivating tech speaker in Sept/Oct 2017 or know someone who does?

I’m going to be in Orlando Florida for the annual Grace Hopper Conference from 3-6th October. If you are in the US and would like me to speak (paid, but without travel costs from the UK) in the week before or after those dates please do get in touch. I need to book my flight to Orlando next week, so a quick heads up would be great. More details about me on my speaker page:

Dr Sue Black OBE 

Dr Sue Black is always a riveting speaker, with informative content and a personal warmth which makes her a pleasure to listen to. She has a clarity and an ability to get to the heart of something and in simple language which makes her a rare
person.

Baroness Rennie Fritchie, House of Lords

I highly recommend Sue as a speaker. When she spoke at our Leadership Academy for young women in Tech she received brilliant feedback. The audience loved her honesty and advice on how to get on in business whilst remaining your authentic self.

Karen Gill, Owner, Everywoman Ltd.

Sue is a delight to work with, full of enthusiasm, extremely knowledgeable … one of the most inspiring people I’ve met in along time.

Lynette Webb, Senior Manager, Google

#tech #technology #womenintech #digital #disruption #digitalskills#socialinclusion #socialmedia #digitalinclusion #tech4good#IfIcandoitsocanyou #disruptyourself #frompovertytoOBE

Please vote for @techmumsHQ in the #tech4good awards #T4Gtechmums :)

techmums bishop challoner

Please vote for #techmums in the #tech4good awards:

https://www.tech4goodawards.com/vote-now/

You can also tweet your vote using #T4Gtechmums

Thanks very much 🙂

Sue xxxx

Computation of Ripple Effect Measures For Software #softwareengineering #softwaremeasurement #rippleeffect @LSBU #PhD #2001

How exciting!! I just received a digital version of my 2001 PhD thesis “Computation of Ripple Effect Measures for Software” from the British Library. If you would like to read it, here you go:

Sue Black – PhD thesis 2001

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If you would like to read something a bit shorter here’s the Abstract:

There are many measures of structural complexity of source code, of which ripple effect is just one. Ripple effect measures the amount which a module or program may affect other modules within a program, or programs within a system, if changes are made. Measurement of ripple effect has been incorporated into several software maintenance models because it shows maintainers the ramifications of any change that they may make before that change is actually implemented. As such, computation of ripple effect provides a potentially valuable source of information. The aim of this thesis is to show that an approximation to Yau and Collofello’s ripple effect algorithm can satisfactorily replace their original algorithm as a measure of structural complexity.

The basis of our approach has been to completely reformulate the ripple effect calculation using matrix arithmetic. As well as making the calculation more explicit the reformulation reveals how the algorithm’s structure can be broken down into separate parts. By focusing on the derivation of one particular matrix we find that an approximation may be made, greatly simplifying the calculation.

A Ripple Effect and Stability Tool (REST) was created and used to validate our work. Firstly, a comparison of the original and reformulated ripple effect measures from several programs shows them to be highly correlated. Secondly, a case study is used to explore the link between ripple effect and maintainer’s intuition of the impact of code changes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this link appears to be less than clear-cut.

Citation:

S. Black, Computation of ripple effect measures for software, Ph.D. thesis, SCISM, South Bank University, London, UK, September 2001, 123 pp.