Lelacoders/HerStory in Computer Sciences


An animation about the HerStory of Computer Sciences


For decades, research on gender and technology has highlighted the under-representation of women in technology. Although sub-research on the field studying women contributing to free software and hackers cultures is very limited, it also points to women’s low participation rates. However, behind these figures and the discourses that accompany them, other, hidden situations may appear: on the one hand, the existence of some women who do participate and might have been invisible before, on the other the widespread assumption that women are not interested or have an innate inability to engage with technology on a deeper level.

The aim of this animation is to actively oppose the prejudice that there are no significant women behind the development of sciences and technologies. This is the result of a systematic negation and invisibility of women in those specific histories. This drives to a lack of role models which perpetuate the women off-the-loop relation with ICT. Finding and making visible those stories is an important element to re-appropriate historical and collective memory and enable the emergence of new imaginaries which we hoped to be very much radical and feminists!

How To:

One very nice way of interacting with this animation is by projecting it with a beamer and enjoy the PD patch, its rhythm, the music and the enormous input of information it carries. It can be also used into many other different settings, for a concert, an installation very DIT, or as food for thought to engage people interested in technologies and their social, political, educational meanings into conversations about the visible and invisible gender divisions operating into our equal access to technologies, its understanding and development.

The animation format was chosen as a way of further exploring the possibilities offered by PureData (a free visual programming language) and how as a media it could feet our desire to spread this cyberfeminist work. We also understand that the first outcome of its visioning might be confusion :-). However, its primary purpose is not to be a videotutorial or a self-containing educational resource, it first aims at creating interest curiosity, surprise and we hope interest. Departing from confusion caused by too much data, people should be able to go towards a more documented understanding of women contribution to CS and the related social and political issues related to gender divisions inside IT contexts.  Please visit the webpage where we have listed the timeline used in the animation (currently available in English and German).


As said par Chris Marker “Luck has intuitions that should not be taken for coincidences”. Two years ago I was reviewing a beautiful animationmade by normal c-alas and based on the text of VNS matrixthe bitch mutant manifesto”. This is how we came to work together in building this animation which first main task consisted in compiling images for the animation of this HerStory.

Meanwhile researching the HerStory, an email was forwarded from a friend of a friend involved in communitarian radio broadcasting in Oaxaca (Mexico) and which was putting up a publication of women experiences working or developing new ICT. She was also looking for latin american and african women and she was having a hard time to find this information on  internet. There is a lack of coverage of those contributions in the history of science, translations but also of indexing and linking between the few contents available, which drive to a cyberfeminist field mainly composed by disconnected islands of knowledge. Even though this chronology is partial and subjective, it is important to open those lines of research and share more knowledge inside common free culture repositories such as wikipedia and have them linked with open data hosted in free platforms.

Thanks to:
Normal c-alas for programming the patch, developing the animation, researching and editing images and being amazingly motivated and creative
Foockinho for patiently editing the numerous images gathered
Electroputas for the music: Ella  (RmX ton Once to Open - Ella Fitzgeralt - from the first demo cd / eLeCTRopUtaS YEAR 2005) and thanks also to Osmozer / JT25 for the live music
b01 for making the PD run and for the video export
Reni hofmüller for the translation to german of the animation
ESC (Graz) and Ministry of Hacking.
IOhannes m zmolnig for making the PD run for the Ministry of hacking
Videohackers for the graphic target
Sydney Padua for letting us use the wonderful images of her comic on Ada Lovelace
Wikipedia and more specifically the Women in computing article
Esao Andrews (Young Mary Shelley)
The women are there, Computer Science for fun, annual issue 2
Margaret Sarah Carpenter (Ada Lovelace portrait)
J. Howard Miller's (We Can Do It! poster)
MichigansWallofFame (Rosie tech)
Computer History Museum  (ENIAC)
The Ada project
Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology fortheir Profiles of Technical Women: Famous Women in Computer Science
Dr. James E. Brittain
Utterlyelastic's Blog
Vintage Computer Festival website
Lisa Foo
American Institute of Physics (Henrietta Swan Leavitt)
Amaya Rodrigo, primera mujer europea en desarrollar Debian, article by Mercé Molist (http://www.nodo50.org/mujeresred/spip.php?article650)
And last but not least, The commons and the public domain