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Katie Bouman – this 29 year old woman can. Katie led a team of various developers and scientists towards this week, taking the first ever photograph of the long elusive black hole. Dr Bouman initially thought that such a feat may even be impossible. But what does this show about women in STEM industries and how to encourage more women to take up these careers?

Katie Bouman joined the Event Horizon Telescope project team just over six years ago at which point she didn’t really have too much knowledge of black holes; however it was her sheer adaptability and in-depth experience in electrical engineering in computer science that helped her to embrace the challenge of overcoming a complex and; relatively unknown subject. Some people are even touting her journey as moving towards seeing and measuring the impossible.

The famous image of Katie waiting in excitement and slight anxiousness as the picture loaded onto her laptop now encapsulates the incredible feat. “Watching in disbelief as the first image I ever made of a black hole was in the process of being reconstructed,” she wrote on Facebook. This was the culmination of three years work, an algorithm that could build together complex images gathered by multiple radio telescopes across the world.

Humbly, following the discovery, Bouman also posted saying:

“No one algorithm or person made this image, it required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat,”

This highlights the growing influence of women in tech industries. 40 of the 200 people working on the project were women, and they were involved every step of the way; said Sara Issaoun, a graduate who worked on the research, to the New York Times.

According to the homepage of the WomenInTechnology.org website:

“When one woman helps another, amazing things can happen. Professional careers leap forward. That’s what Women in Technology is all about. As the premier professional association for women in the technology industry, we understand the unique challenges you face. No matter where you are in your professional development, or what technology-related field you’re in, our community offers a broad range of support, programs and resources to advance women in technology from the classroom to the boardroom.”

Encouraging more women into tech jobs in the STEM industries is vitally important as it is an important step to ensuring the correct diversity in technology roles for future generations. Women like Katie and the widespread coverage of her incredible achievements help to change perceptions of typically male dominated roles.

We hope that one day, stories like this and the further prominence of women in STEM industries and their growing achievements will cause more little girls in classrooms to put their hands up and say “when I grow up, I want to be a scientist”.

At Kaleida, we want to make sure that we are helping to build the next generation of women in tech and therefore want to provide equal opportunities wherever possible. If you are wanting to be a part of our tech and software development journey; please get in touch with us today.

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