2021-03-08: Women's power for future technologies


An important building block for gender equality: International Women's Day has been celebrated worldwide since March 8, 1921. This regularly sends a signal that not only men have rights and a place in politics, business, science or the arts. Although the mathematician Emmy Noether or the physicist Lise Meitner, along with many other female scientists, had already proven that women could deliver on groundbreaking research and thus advance humanity, 100 years ago education and above all studying were not a matter of course for women all over the world. Emmy Noether was denied a habilitation by the state in Prussia. Marie Curie had to leave her country of origine Poland in the 1880s to be able to research radioactivity in France; she excelled in her field of science and was the first woman and the first scientist ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize in two disciplines: physics in 1903 and chemistry in 1911. Even after the Second World War, female researchers struggled for their position, especially if they were interested in technology, mathematics, physics or computer science. Even despite the fact that over time, they had helped break Nazi Germany's initial defense-technology superiority during the war. The decryption of the Enigma cipher machine can also be traced back to the ground-breaking work of mathematician and cryptanalyst Joan Clarke.

For a long time, women and technology seemed to be in a complicated relationship. Just think about Katherine Johnson, a mathematician of color who calculated the trajectories for the Apollo missions and initially could not even take a quick bathroom break. The film "Hidden Figures" tells of her predicament as a woman of color working in a domain of (white) men. Despite this resistance, women have made their mark in science and technology and left many traces, also and especially in computer science: They developed new technologies or invented programming languages. The British aristocrat Ada Lovelace programmed one of the first computers, the Analytical Engine by Charles Babbage. Grace Hopper revolutionized the field of programming languages and found the first compute bug. Margaret Hamilton's software also enabled the Apollo mission to be controlled.

International Women's Day may have been only a small component, but it allows us to regularly remind ourselves of the skills and achievements of women. Memories are one part to build the foundation for the women’s and emancipations movement. Women can do everything and they contribute in all social and scientific fields - as scientists, as inventors, as managers. They do this even though they still encounter resistance. That's precisely why we celebrate here the achievements of women, who are enriching and advancing high-performance computing, supercomputing, artificial intelligence, and, more recently, quantum computing:

Laura Schulz develops the strategies and partner programs for the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre and heads the new Bavarian AI agency.

Dr. Tanja Hanauer has researched the visualization of IT programs and technology at the LRZ and shows which graphics increase security and facilitate control.

Daniëlle Schumann adapts conventional algorithms to quantum computing and researches future technology.

Bengisu Elis is working on the new BEAST testbed of LRZ, looking at ways to make supercomputers more efficient, more powerful, faster.

Sophia Grundner-Culemann is working on cryptology, thus ensuring greater security on computers and in the digital world, and would like to see more education among users.

Sabine Osorio and her team organize a friendly, diverse and inspiring working environment for the female IT specialists and scientists at the LRZ.

Prof. Dr. Alice Gabriel develops algorithms for supercomputing that can be used to decode earthquakes, tsunamis and other seismological phenomena for better disaster protection. For her work she won 2020 the Ada Lovelace Price from the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE).

Prof. Xiaoxiang Zhu develops algorithms and smart systems for evaluating geographic and satellite data from ESA, DLR and New Space companies. She studied aerospace in China, did research for her master's degree and then for her habilitation in Munich and also won the Ada Lovelace Prize from PRACE