UT alumna Tracy LaQuey Parker was inducted into the Internet Society’s Internet Hall of Fame this month for her work as the author of some of the first best-selling books about the internet.
Parker’s books, “The Internet Companion,” published in 1992, and “The User’s Directory of Computer Networks,” published in 1988, earned her a spot as one of the 14 honorees this month. In addition to her books, Parker continued to promote the adoption of the internet through her career, according to the Internet Hall of Fame website.
“I feel really humble because there’s a lot of people who’ve done amazing things with the internet in the early days,” Parker said. “To be singled out was just an incredible compliment and honor.”
Parker, a 1986 computer science graduate, said her interest in the internet began after talking with a friend about their work with UT’s computer network and the statewide computer network that connected Texas universities.
“I just knew the minute I started sending emails that this was going to be huge,” Parker said. “I’d never seen anything that cool before.”
Parker said some of her proudest work comes from introducing Texas educators to the internet and teaching them to integrate it in practical circumstances through the Texas Education Network, which was introduced in 1991.
“I knew the internet was going to be big,” Parker said. “It was just demonstrating it to people and evangelizing it and getting the computer engineers and researchers to work on ways to make it more usable.”
According to Parker, many people were surprised she took the technical route and pursued a computer science degree.
“I’ve dealt with the typical overt and not-so-overt discrimination when I worked, but it was (something) I was able to get over,” Parker said.
Computer science lecturer Alison Norman said she has heard similar sentiments from female computer science students.
“They describe it as death by a thousand paper cuts,” Norman said. “It’s just the little comments and the little things that make you feel like you’re not here.”
Computer science junior Maria Salazar said with the lack of female representation in the industry, it’s good to have a role model like Parker.
“In (computer science) it’s obviously noticeable that there are so few women,” Salazar said. “Having someone to look up to is really important … and we have (an example) of this woman doing awesome things.”