Hacking through History

Meraki’s Women Engineers go to the Computer History Museum

Post by Alex Taipale

Every two weeks, a group of women software engineers at Meraki meets for an hour to dive deep into an engineering skill, code base, or technology. The intent of the group is to build skill digging into unfamiliar source code and documentation and to share expertise across our technical stack.

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Meraki engineering emphasizes working on the entire technical stack. We give our engineers the opportunity to work in a broad range of technical areas from writing low-level code in the firmware that runs on our devices, to writing code in React, a web development framework, and everything in between. This breadth of engineering disciplines allows Meraki engineers to learn a wide range of skills and technologies. In our study group, we share and build cross-team expertise in an all-women engineering environment, a rare opportunity!

Last week, the study group took a break from our regular routine of reading documentation for operating system commands, implementations of the `String` data type, or the web’s specifications for the structure of website code, to take a field trip to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.

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On a sunny Friday afternoon, we piled into a van outside Meraki’s Mission Bay office and made the trip down to the South Bay. We were all excited to spend time together off-site and explore the museum.

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Jenny holding a vacuum tube from an early
computer.

Our visit began with a tour that covered highlights from the history of women in computing. The guide took us all the way from ancient abacuses to Ada, Countess of Lovelace’s, contributions to mechanical computers to Grace Hopper’s invention of the compiler. We were inspired by the stories of our female predecessors’ contributions to our field.

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An ancient computing tool, the abacus.

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Hearing about the exponential growth of the number of
transistors per square inch on integrated circuits.

After the tour, we explored the rest of the museum. We immediately found the Networking exhibit which featured some of Cisco’s history and even included one of Cisco’s first-ever routers!

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Here we are, Cisco Meraki engineers with the first Cisco router!

All of us had a great time exploring the museum and learning some history of women in computing. After being reminded of the limited opportunities available to women in computing historically, we feel especially grateful to be part of a company that places a high value on gender equality.

Meraki is hiring! Check out our openings in San Francisco, London, and Sydney at meraki.com/jobs.