Ada’s Vanguard

Shout-out to my fellow femme-identified makers, hackers, and professional tech creators…

Alex Glow
2 years ago

Shout-out to my fellow femme-identified makers, hackers, and professional tech creators…

Hey! Today is Ada Lovelace Day. Most makers are familiar with Limor Fried, founder of Adafruit, and her norm-defying pink hair. You’ve probably also heard of Simone Giertz—queen of… unfortunate… robots. Well, get in the car. We’re going to meet a ton more women who are advancing robotic, wireless, cute, punk, serious, sexy, open-source, open-minded hardware.

First up, Micah Scott (Scanlime) is a brilliant engineer: even her setup for live-streaming video is more complex than most hardware projects, and includes the Tuco Flyer mobile camera, which tracks her cat in the lab. Plus, she does live reverse-engineering on fascinating, intricate systems. Watch and learn.

Women are driving fashion technology with jaw-dropping designs and tutorials: Anouk Wipprecht (Spider Dress), who lives to create, day in and day out — but has also built an incredible posse around her magnetic personality. Behnaz Farahi (Caress of the Gaze), Becky Stern (NeoPixel punk choker), Kitty Yeung (cool dresses), Rain Ashford, Mikaela Holmes, and Tenaya Hurst, to name a tiny handful of those I’m privileged to know.

My new Twitter-crush Sailor Mercury (Bubblesort Zines) promotes cute tech with fun, educational zines, enamel pins, and custom-manufactured pastel alligator clips.

Naomi Wu, aka SexyCyborg, shares designs for hacker-chic platform heels, skirts, and more. See her Kali Linux makeup palette for just one badass security project. She also recently collaborated with Becky Button on another hackerrific wearable project: the Wi-Fi Deauthing Sandals. Naomi advocates powerfully for freedom of expression and equal representation of women and PoC makers in the community.

Mary Maggic, Hyphen Labs (Neurospeculative Afrofeminism), and GynePunk break new ground as intersectional feminist biohackers.

Star Simpson created the beautiful Circuit Classics kits, a collaboration with Forrest Mims to bring his famed notebook designs to life. Star is also the founder of a YC startup called Corvidair from the last batch.

You’ll hear a lot about Ada Lovelace today, and so I’d also like to give a shout-out to Hedy Lamarr, one of my own historical role models. Like all humans, she had flaws… and still, she was a powerhouse inventor and actress. Read the “Inventor” and “Wartime fundraiser” sections on Wikipedia to understand her genius and some of the challenges she faced trying to achieve recognition for her work. Shout-out to women who have been pushed to pursue only their non-technical interests as a career, but keep hacking it on their own.

Shout-out to the young ones; let’s keep the fire burning. (In terms of early inspiration, of course, Hidden Figureshas you covered.)

Shout-out to the mothers making it in robotics start-ups and in hackerspaces—and props to all partners, employers, family members, and friends who step up to build the next generation. Let’s change the norms. I’m inspired by Mikell Taylor, who was a senior in high school when I was a freshman.

To my first real nerd friend, Christina Xu, the classmate who showed me that there was a community for teenaged girls like us. She’s now a thought-provoking ethnographer and analyst of Internet culture.

To Emma Fletcher, co-founder of Rocket Dept, who helped lead the next generation. And to the whole CSG FIRST/Tae Kwon Do/Silhouette/Anime Club crowd.

To Sally Carson and Allie Jennings, who gave me my first steady maker job and are still kicking ass with secure networked technology at Filament.

And to you—for reading this, and for whatever you do to give back to this community. Go support some amazing people, and be a leader for those to come.

Alex Glow
The Hackster team's resident Hardware Nerd. I like robots, music, EEG, wearables, and languages. FIRST Robotics kid.
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