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Women’s History Month Series: Of March and Maiden(s)!

By gsengupta In Community Stories

Posted March 1st, 2018

It’s that time of the year again! Women’s History Month is here.

Starting today (March 1), we are going to do a blog series celebrating women in general (and of course at Topcoder!) every Thursday for the entire month.

We are kicking the series off with a brief history on the significance of this month and Women’s Day (March 8) followed by a recap of “maiden” (first-ever) achievements by women at Topcoder.

Inception of International Women’s Month

Not so long ago, the K-12 curriculum or the general public consciousness was not as concerned with women’s contributions throughout history. In the 1970s, women were hardly featured in any textbook or serious literature. In light of this gap, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County (California) Commission on the Status of Women initiated what became known as the “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978. Their idea was to revise the school curriculum and make it more inclusive of women.

The activities organized and steps taken, as part of the local Women’s History Week, were met with an enthusiastic response, and dozens of schools planned special programs for Women’s History Week. And that was just the beginning.

By 1986, 14 states had already declared March as Women’s History Month. In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month. Today, March is celebrated as the Women’s History Month (or International Women’s Month) across the globe.

But the seeds were sown much earlier…

International Women’s Day became a UN-recognized annual event in 1975. However, in 1908 15,000 women had marched through New York City rallying for shorter working hours, better pay, and the right to vote.

In 1910, Clara Zetkin – a German Marxist theorist, activist, and advocate for women’s rights – suggested that an International Women’s Day be earmarked at the Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen. 100 women from 17 countries agreed on this unanimously. Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland celebrated the first International Women’s Day a year later in 1911.

Firsts by Topcoder Women

2011 technically marked the centenary International Women’s Day. That same year, Margarita from Ukraine became the first ever Topcoder Open Champion. Coincidence much!

Then of course, we have a series of firsts…

  • Puchki (or Sunita) is the first and only woman from India to become a TCO finalist three times (in 2010, 2011, and 2014). idblack (Indonesia) and DaraK (Romania) have also made it to the finals more than once. As have many others.
  • Fairy_ley from Indonesia was our first-ever female Topcoder Design Champion.
  • 7ania7, from Poland, is the first and only female TCO Algorithm Competition finalist.
  • At TCO16, we had a record seven women finalists across four different competition tracks.
  • F0rc0d3r, from Spain is our first and only wireframe champion at TCO15.

Special mentions

There are so many women within the community who are challenging the “women can’t be techies” stereotype every single day. Here are a few more who stand out.

Pandorabox from India is fairly new to the community. She was a TCO17 finalist and it was only her second attempt at getting to TCO. And she’s married to a Topcoder copilot who she brought along to the finals!

Veterans Selvia_ettine (Indonesia) and Picachui (India) are wireframers who win most of the challenges they participate in. In fact, Selvia has an 80-90% success rate. Now, that’s something! And there are many more!

Watch this space for the next in the series and more interesting insights and trivia from Topcoder women!