Lenore Blum
Distinguished professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon

Even when Lenore Blum was a little girl, mathematics sang to her.

“I remember being in a trigonometry class and thinking, ‘Oh how beautiful,’” says Blum, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and long-time pioneer of women’s rights in the worlds of math and computer science. “It was pure truth, independent of feelings. And for me that gave it huge value; I just loved it. I saw the beauty in it, in the fact that it didn’t care for anybody’s opinion, just the pure truth.”

Blum, a Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science, is today known for her work on Project Olympus, a CMU incubator which showcases local tech talent and has helped establish Pittsburgh as a national hi-tech hub.

“Students were being hired away by tech startups,” she says. “So the idea was to create a place where students can try out ideas while in school, present them to the public, meet people in the local business community, and build connections with the regional business world. That’s one reason I started the show and tells — immediately, students were being written up and on TV. And then when they graduated, they started saying, ‘We’re staying in Pittsburgh. Why would we leave? We have so many good connections here.’”

Blum will continue to fight for increased inclusion of women in the world of tech.

“There is a dearth of women in hi-tech entrepreneurship, so that’s my focus now,” she says. “Some things haven’t changed, some things have. I can still go to meetings where there might be one women speaker in computer science or math.

“If women aren’t at the table, they’re invisible. I keep speaking out, but I’m getting tired. I’d find it amusing or funny if it wasn’t so sad.”