Past and Present Women Role Models in Networking

Women’s History Month:

Recently, when we celebrated International Women’s Day, Kevin Bradley, our Head of People, noted, “We are fortunate at cPacket to have 25% women.” He continued, “Twenty-five percent is good, but about average for technology companies, so we (cPacket) must strive to improve. One day is not enough; we must encourage more opportunities for women to succeed in our industry.”

Past and Present Women Role Models in Networking

The history of women in networking is fascinating, as women have played an essential role in developing computer networking since their earliest days.

Many women have made critical contributions to IT and networking over the years. Women were instrumental in developing key technologies that advanced the field of computer networking. Some of the notable contributions from women in networking include:

  • Radia Perlman is known as the “Mother of the Internet” for her contributions to developing the Spanning Tree Protocol, which is still used in modern network switches today.
  • Elizabeth Feinler managed the ARPANET’s Network Information Center in the 1970s, overseeing the creation of the first online directory.
  • Karen Sollins has significantly contributed to developing networking protocols and architectures, including the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP).
  • Van Jacobson developed the TCP/IP protocol that enabled internet connections between computers on different networks. She worked on the TCP/IP Performance Enhancing Proxy (PEP) that improved the speed of internet connections.
  • Jennifer Widom is an American computer scientist known for her work in database systems and data management. She is notable for foundational contributions to semi-structured data and stream management systems.

These are just a few examples of the many contributions that women have made to networking over the years. Despite their challenges, women have continued to push the field forward and help shape how we communicate and connect online.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when computer networking was in its infancy, many programmers and engineers involved in creating the first computer networks were women. For example, in 1969, a team of women at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) played a crucial role in developing the ARPANET, the precursor to the modern internet. Among the members of this team were computer scientists, including Elizabeth Feinler, who managed the ARPANET’s Network Information Center, and Radia Perlman, who developed the Spanning Tree Protocol, which is still used in modern networks today.

Women in network computing continued to make substantial contributions to our industry over time. In the 1980s and 1990s, women played vital roles in developing necessary networking protocols like TCP/IP and HTTP. Women continue to be involved in networking computing in various roles, from software engineers to network architects to cybersecurity analysts. As cPacket moves forward, innovating and paving the way for future generations, we are mindful that a diverse workforce is more successful, and encouraging an increase in the number of women in network computing roles is an essential piece of the diversity puzzle for a thriving industry ecosystem.