The myth: Women are not suited to jobs in engineering and technology

Engineering and technology industries need women

The world needs engineering and technology but there is a widely held belief that women should not be working in these industries. This deep-rooted view is probably influenced by our early education, where different activities are given to boys and girls based on a stereotypical perspective of gender difference. However, women are equal to men, in terms of their intelligence and wisdom, and are just as capable of working in engineering and technology as men. In fact, women may bring a fresh perspective, considering technical issues in innovative ways and focusing on more sustainable solutions. In short, women are needed in engineering and technology.

The first computer programmer was a woman

Everyone is familiar with computer programmers, but a female programmer is relatively unusual, even these days. Although rare, female programmers have long made a contribution to the field of software engineering. In fact, surprising as it may seem, the world’s first computer algorithm was written by a woman.

Watercolour portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace)

That woman was Ada Lovelace, born in 1815, the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. From an early age, Ada was very interested in mathematics, and she later became a mathematician. She was good friends with Charles Babbage, a famous mechanical engineer. Charles later invented the Analytical Engine, and Ada began to write algorithms for it. By 1843, Ada had published her own algorithm, now recognised as the world’s first.

Later, she established the concept of loops and subroutines, and then translated into English an article on Babbage’s Analytical Engine by Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea. In her translation, she added several extensive notes to explain the early computer’s operations in detail. She also predicted that the machine could be used for typesetting, arrangement or other more complex purposes in the future. After 100 years, Ada’s predictions became true with the first computers.

The notes she wrote alongside the translation are recognised as the most influential textbook on modern computer and software engineering. Many later computer programmes and algorithms were based on her algorithm. For these reasons, she is also recognised as the world’s first computer programmer.

What we can do to break the myth

At Helvar, we encourage all people to work in tech fields, whatever their gender, age, ethnicity or nationality. We hire women in all roles – as developers, QA engineers, tech support engineers, marketers, product managers and so on. We follow our own code of ethics on top of our legal obligations. Women are supported to achieve their career goals at Helvar.

At Helvar, we firmly believe that women are suited to engineering and technology.

Zihan Bian


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