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Claire L Evans, Sandy Aung, Ginger Gorman, Alexandra Zafiroglu: Women and the Internet

The history of technology is one of men and machines, transformation tales of garages to grand mansions, alpha nerds and ‘brogrammers’. But female tech visionaries have always been at the forefront of technology and innovation, yet they’ve been overlooked, until now.

In her breakthrough book Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet, VICE reporter and musician Claire L Evans tells the story of internet’s unsung female heroes. From Ada Lovelace who wrote the first computer program back in the Victorian Age (100 years before the first computer was built), to Elizabeth Feinler who helped create the first domain names, women have been a huge part of every significant milestone in web development. These women joined the ranks of pioneers who defied social convention to become database poets, information wranglers, hypertext dreamers, and glass ceiling shattering entrepreneurs.

Following her solo talk, Evans was joined by a panel of experts including president of UNSW's RoboGals Sandy Aung, best-selling author Ginger Gorman, cultural anthropologist Alexandra Zafiroglu, and science journalist Natasha Mitchell to discuss how women will continue to shape the technology of our future.

We need to stop looking at radical women from the past as sticker book role models.  We need to understand that they are rich full people too, not infallible geniuses. None of the people from history were infallible geniuses… Ada Lovelace was an alcoholic and that’s ok!

Claire L Evans

People thought that the internet would be a utopia in the same way that we always approach new technologies and new possibilities.

Alexandra Zafiroglu


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Photo credit: Prudence Upton

This talk was chaired by science journalist Natasha Mitchell and was part of the program of events UNSW Sydney is presenting for the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week.

Claire L Evans portrait

Claire L Evans

Claire L Evans is a writer and a musician. She is the singer of pop group YACHT, the founding editor of Terraform (VICE's science fiction vertical), and the author of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women who Made the Internet. She is the former futures editor of Motherboard, and a regular contributor to VICE, Rhizome, The Guardian, WIRED, Aeon and many more leading tech publications. She is an advisor to graduate design students at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and a member of the cyber-feminist collective, Deep Lab. She lives in Los Angeles.

Sandy Aung

Sandy Aung

Sandy Aung is currently studying a Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering and Masters of Biomedical Engineering at UNSW Sydney. Throughout her studies at university, she's developed the passion for educating girls to take on an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). During her involvement with student society Robogals, she has contributed to the reach of 1,000 girls in the year 2018 and this year, 700 girls already. She has done this through the volunteer position of Robogals Marketing Manager (2017 – 2018) and then as President (2018 – current), as well as teaching workshops in schools around Sydney.

Ginger Gorman portrait

Ginger Gorman

Ginger Gorman is an award-winning social justice journalist based in Canberra. In 2013, Gorman experienced online hate firsthand – an experience which set her on a professional journey into the world of trolls and led her to write the book, Troll Hunting. She is the 2006 World Press Institute Fellow and has penned online articles for Huffpost and The Guardian that went viral. She has spoken extensively about trolling and social media self defense in Australian and around the world.

Alexandra Zafiroglu

Alexandra Zafiroglu

Alexandra Zafiroglu is a Professor of Cybernetics at the Australian National University’s 3A Institute (3Ai) and a Fellow of the ANU Futures scheme. Prof Zafiroglu, a cultural anthropologist by training, joined the 3A institute in 2019, after a 15-year career in the technology industry at Intel Corporation in the United States. Prof Zafiroglu has written multiple publications, presented at academic, regional and industry conferences and is a member of the American Anthropological Association and EPIC People (Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Community). In addition to her PhD, Prof Zafiroglu holds a MA in Cultural Anthropology from Brown University and a BA in Anthropology & History from the University of Delaware. She is also co-inventor on 11 patents.

Natasha Mitchell portrait

Natasha Mitchell

Natasha Mitchell is an award-winning science journalist, radio host and podcaster. She presents ABC Radio National’s science and technology program, Science Friction, and previously hosted Life Matters, and was the founding presenter and producer of the popular science, psychology and culture program, All in the Mind. Mitchell served as Vice President of the World Federation of Science Journalists and is currently a member of the Executive Advisory Board of Women in Science Australia, Mitchell was also the recipient of a prestigious Knight Journalism Fellowship at Harvard University (USA) and a Marine Biological Laboratory Journalism Fellowship at Woods Hole (Massachusetts, USA). Her broadcast work has received accolades internationally, including the overall Grand Prize and four Gold World Medals at the New York Radio Festival, four Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Broadcast Media Awards, the Yooralla Broadcast Media Award, the Public Health Association of Australia Media Award, the Australasian Association of Philosophy Media Professionals' Award, among other awards. She was finalist for two Human Rights Awards.

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