Monday, November 24, 2014

Thank the Women

Do You Use the Internet? Thank These 10 Women!

If you are using the Internet right now, you have a woman to thank. We've all heard of the men who created the Internet as we know it, Al Gore, Vint Cerf, Tim Berners-Lee, and so on, but women made huge contributions to the field too. Let's give them a huge thank you. 

1) Elizabeth Feinler
Before GoDaddy became the best-known (and most controversial) Internet naming registrar, there was Elizabeth Feinler. Feinler developed the first directory of Internet names and addresses. She also co-invented the domain-naming scheme we still use today to identify organizations as .com, .edu, .gov, or .org.

2) Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder
The Domain Name System is a helpful technology that lets Internet users enter names instead of addresses, but there are security problems with the system. Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder is working on a fix. Löwinder works on DNS security extensions that help Internet users be sure they are visiting the website they think they are visiting.öwinder

3) Latanya Sweeney
Speaking of security, you probably have concerns about privacy on the Internet as well as security. Well, so does Dr. Latanya Sweeney, and she is working on your behalf to improve Internet privacy as the Chief Technologist of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Sweeney has a PhD in Computer Science from MIT and is on leave from her work as Director of the Data Privacy Lab at Harvard while she works at the FTC.

4) Radia Perlman
Without the work of Dr. Radia Perlman, you could not be reading this Internet blog post. Dr. Perlman develops routing and switching protocols that form the underpinning of the Internet. Ask any network engineer if they have heard of Perlman, and the answer will be a resounding yes. Many engineers learned networking from her influential book, "Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols."

5) Sally Floyd
Have you ever called tech support to complain that the network is slow? You have a woman to thank for the technology that can fix the problem! Dr. Sally Floyd invented Random Early Detection and other networking technology that can automatically recognize when a network link is congested and redirect traffic around the problem.

6) Barbara van Schewick
Speaking of network congestion, should Internet service providers be allowed to charge extra for handling huge video streams from companies such as Netflix? Net neutrality experts, including Dr. Barbara van Schewick, might say no, arguing that innovation arises from a more hands-off approach where all network traffic is handled equally. Van Schewick knows both the law and the engineering behind net neutrality. She is a Professor of Law at Stanford, holds a PhD in Computer Science, and is the author of the book "Internet Architecture and Innovation."

7) Kim Polese
One of the most common programming languages in use on the Internet is Java. Kim Polese was responsible for bringing Java to market in 1995 when she was the Java product manager for Sun Microsystems. Java revolutionized the way that software is written for the Internet, allowing programmers to write one app that can run on multiple platforms.

8) Sandy Lerner
Cisco Systems manufactures the equipment that controls much of the Internet. Founded in a garage in 1984 by Sandy Lerner and her then-husband, Len Bosack, Cisco grew to become a multinational corporation. Lerner went on to found the cosmetics company Urban Decay and to write a sequel to Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice." She is a Renaissance woman, and without her, the Internet may never have grown to what it is today. 

9) Diane Greene
Another huge networking company was also founded by a husband and wife team, with the help of others. VMware was founded by Diane Greene, her husband Mendel Rosenblum, and colleagues. You've heard of "the cloud," right? Well, you have Diane and her colleagues to thank for the cloud and other virtualization services that run the Internet as we know it.

10) Joyce Reynolds
Finally, let's end with an early Internet pioneer. Joyce Reynolds was one of the most prolific authors and editors of the earliest Request for Comments (RFCs). RFCs specify the protocols that run the Internet. RFCs are still being written today. 

In summary, if you read a history of the Internet and no women are mentioned, don't believe it! Yes, many more men than women worked on the protocols and infrastructure, but it wasn't only men. Far from it! Then and now, women work to enhance, secure, and document the Internet, and they deserve our thanks. 

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