Computer Science Legend Dr. Sue Black On Careers, Recharging, And More

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LONDON—Dr. Sue Black isn’t your typical keynote speaker for a developer conference. For starters, there’s her bright red, slightly mohawk hairstyle. But more fundamentally, she’s a woman—and that’s exactly what she came to Oracle Code London to talk about.

We met just before Black was due to take the stage to close Oracle Code, one of the UK’s main developer events of the year. Awaiting her were hundreds of coders, mostly men.

Dr. Sue Black told Oracle Code London attendees that she’s hopeful about social movements that encourage more women to join the technology industry.

Few people are more qualified to talk about how to fix this gender imbalance than Black. Having left school in the late 1970s at age 16, she was raising her three small children by her mid-20s in a women’s refuge in London, on little more than government benefits and resilience. Today, Black is close to tech royalty, having almost singlehandedly saved Bletchley Park, center of Britain’s World War II code-breaking efforts, from imminent closure in the early 2000s.

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