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5 women who helped make the internet

Image: Sunny Studio/

To mark International Women's Day, we celebrate the contribution of some of the inspirational women whose work helped shape the online world

As an organisation working in the digital environment, we're proud that four out of the five members of the Parent Zone Senior Management team are women. One of our aims on Parent Zone is for all children to be resilient and confident enough to take advantage of the opportunities the Digital World offers, regardless of background or gender. So we're taking the opportunity to mark International Women's Day on 8 March by celebrating five amazing role models who helped make the internet what it is today.

Men, you'll have to wait for International Men's Day on 19 November for your turn.

1 Ada Lovelace (1788-1824)

Not only was Augusta Ada King-Noel a countess, but she was also the daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron. Yet her passion was numbers and the mathematician worked on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical computer, the Analytical Engine. She is credited with writing what is now recognised as the first algorithm (a set of step-by-step instructions or code) which makes her the world’s first computer programmer.

2 Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)

During World War II, the Hollywood actress (born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in Austria) worked with composer George Antheil on a radio guidance system for allied torpedoes. The principles of their work are now incorporated into CDMA, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communications technology, without which, global communication would be a far more complicated and stressful thing.

3 Radia Perlman (1951-)

The network engineer and software designer has been credited as the ‘mother of the internet’ after developing the spanning-tree protocol (STP), the system which allowed two networks to join together and act as one, linking single computers globally for the first time. With a Ph.D in computer science from MIT, she was also a pioneer in teaching young children computer programming as far back as the 1970s.  

4 Stacy Horn (1956-)

Before Snapchat, before Facebook, even before MySpace, there was EchoNYC, an online bulletin board run out of a flat in New York. Horn's idea wasn't original, but using the platform to discuss things like films, books and stories of the day was, and she was doing it 13 years before Mark Zuckerberg got angry about being dumped by his then girlfriend and launched his social network for Harvard students.

 5 Martha Lane-Fox (1973-)

Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho, to use her full name, was one of the first people in Britain to see the potential of the internet for selling products and services when she co-founded in 1998. After stepping down as managing director in 2003, she has since worked in business and for the UK government in various high profile roles and in April 2016, joined the board of US social network giant Twitter.

By Eleanor Levy


Further reading

Careers your child could enter if they study tech

Here come the Stemettes

It's messy, it's fun and it might just get your child their dream career

How stereotypes stop you being you



Main image: Steven Depolo/Girls on the Run, CC BY 2.0. Marth Lane-Fox image: GDSteam, CC BY 2.0. All other images: CC BY 2.0