March is Women’s History Month, where we celebrate and pay tribute to the women who’ve played a vital role throughout American history. Within the tech industry, women have always been at the forefront of innovation and progress — although nowadays, women make up only 28% of the tech industry workforce.
To shed some light on the unique challenges that women face in the tech industry, we’ve compiled a list of book recommendations about women working in tech over the years. From a biography of a woman cryptanalyst during World War II, to a memoir from a software engineer in Silicon Valley during the dotcom boom, there are so many moving stories to add to your want-to-read list.
Reading these books will help you better understand tech’s “herstory,” and hopefully inspire you to work towards gender equality in your own professional life.
Life in Code: A Personal History of Technology
Part memoir, part collection of essays, veteran programmer Ellen Ullman’s most recent book paints a vivid picture of what it was like to be a woman engineer during the early days of the dotcom boom. Life in Code is packed with fascinating anecdotes (like the time the Google co-founders offered Ellen a job at a party and she turned it down) and meaningful reflections about the power of programming. BTW, if you haven’t read her hit 1997 book Close to the Machine, you should definitely add that one to your list, too! Buy it here.
Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet
Learn about the history of the internet through the lens of the pioneering women who built it. From the 19th century to present day, the book Broad Band spotlights women who had a lasting impact on the internet, like Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, and the ENIAC Six. You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate this fascinating collection of stories. Buy it here.
Daring to be Different: Stories and Tips from a Woman Leader in Tech
Whether you’re an engineering apprentice or are managing a team of developers for the first time, you’ll find workplace wisdom in this book by Raji Rajagopalan, Director of Engineering at Microsoft. Raji shares stories about her own experience being a first-generation immigrant in America and navigating being a woman of color in tech. She also shares practical advice that helped her along the way — like how to cope with public speaking nerves and get better at storytelling. Buy it here.
Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change
You might remember seeing the news headlines about Ellen Pao in 2015, and the gender discrimination lawsuit she filed against her employer, a prominent venture capital firm in Silicon Valley. The case was a lightning rod for discussions about sexism within tech. In this book, Ellen, who is the former CEO of Reddit, shares her story about being a woman of color and whistleblower in a predominantly white male industry. Buy it here.
Innovating Women: The Changing Face of Technology
Though it was published nearly a decade ago, this powerful book of essays and first-person anecdotes written by women in STEM is still relevant today. Each chapter is a separate crowd-sourced essay by a woman whose work involves innovation and entrepreneurship, including some big names in tech, like Megan Smith, former Google VP and Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Kim Polese, who was the founding product manager for Java, and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Heidi Roizer. Innovating Women sheds important light on the meaningful contributions women have made in the tech industry, while also acknowledging the realities of gender bias. Buy it here.
Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men
If you’re learning about data science or working towards a career in data science, this book is a must-read. Invisible Women breaks down all of the ways in which gender bias and discrimination against women is ingrained in data that drives crucial decisions in our modern world. Though the findings are eye-opening (and downright maddening), reading this book will motivate you to pay attention to diversity in datasets that you interact with in your own work. Buy it here.
The Woman Who Smashed Codes
This is a fascinating true story about Elizebeth Smith, a woman who went from studying languages and Shakespeare to becoming America’s first female cryptanalyst. Elizabeth was highly skilled in “code-breaking,” which is a process of decrypting code or cipher messages to uncover hidden information. She worked as a cryptanalyst during both World Wars, and went on to work for the U.S. Navy, Treasury, Coast Guard, and Army. Buy it here.
Want even more tech books? Codecademy has tons of recommendations for riveting and useful reads. Check out this list of tech books written by Black authors, books that make great gifts for technologists, and more.