Female Excellence in Quantum Computing

Olivia Lam

April 08, 2023

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What is Quantum Computing?
Quantum computing is a combination of technology, mathematics, and physics in order to take computers, and even supercomputers, and make them even more capable, complex, and efficient. It comes from the concept of quantum mechanics, which allows us to take a look at objects at the atomic level like light, atoms, protons, and other particles, and make accurate predictions, on their movement and interactions. These predictions are all based on the probability of these phenomena occurring, so we may not know with one hundred percent certainty, but as STEM advances we only get closer to complete accuracy.

Quantum computing utilizes quantum mechanics to tackle problems that supercomputers are not able to tackle due to their complexity, just like how electrons are complex in their constant motion and interactions. We already have quantum computing benefitting our day-to-day lives
through weather forecasting, pharmaceutical drug design and development, cybersecurity, data analysis optimization, and more.

Who Fills These Shoes?
As you can tell… these are big shoes to fill. Yet, there are plenty of women who are more than up for the challenge.

Take Rebecca Krauthamer, a founder of a startup called Quantum Thought who was featured in Forbes Magazine’s: Top 30 Under 30. She has founded other technology startups as well as taken on the role of the Chief Technology Officer at another AI company. Quantum Thought however develops technologies for all things quantum: quantum AI, quantum molecular simulation, quantum financial modeling, and more.

Eleanor Rieffel is another leading lady in the quantum field, as well as an author of an introductory book on quantum computing (so you know she’s the real deal). She has a degree in mathematics from Harvard as well as her Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA, which she has taken to NASA to do research as a computer scientist. Her research revolves around quantum computing, of course, robotics, bioinformatics, applied cryptography, and much more.

Michelle Simmons with roles such as the director of ARC Centre for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, professor at UNSW for quantum physics, chair for the division of quantum information in the American Physical Society, and founder of Silicon Quantum Computing. If that isn’t what you call well-rounded, Simmons was also awarded ‘Australian of the Year’ (yes, you heard that right, all Australians) by UNSW in 2018.

These are just a few spectacular women who are taking quantum computing to another level, and this article here highlights many more.

The Push for More Women in STEM

The rapidly advancing world of technology and AI are not slowing down for anybody, and now more than ever, it is vital to have women in quantum computing as for any STEM career. To look at some recent statistics.

It was found that women hold a mere 26.7% of tech-related jobs, with some companies having over 10,000 employees. Within these tech companies, it was also found that 50% of women faced gender discrimination, inequality, or sexual harassment. Even more alarming was that statistics showed that in the last two years, women in tech jobs have been on the decline. This may be an effect of the decrease of women in higher education pursuing STEM degrees, with only 18% of them attaining computer science degrees.

However, with women like these advancing the world of quantum computing, there is definite hope for women in STEM. It may start with all Australians, but soon the world will come to realize all of the incredible things women in the tech industry can do.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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