Women have traditionally had a difficult time entering into the primarily male-dominated computer business. While they were largely excluded from the IT sector for much of history, when they did participate, they faced the additional burden of remaining unnoticed.
Did you know that the world’s first computer, the ENIAC, was programmed by six women? For years, many didn’t since credits were rarely, if ever, given. Despite the obstacles and discrimination they have faced throughout the years, some women have made a lasting effect in the computer industry.
According to Statista, women hold roughly 26% of executive or senior management positions in S&P 500 businesses, with Amazon employing up to 42% of women.
But technology isn’t just about Silicon Valley or business; women have contributed to the technology we use today in a wide range of ways.
From Lady Ada Lovelace, the world’s first coder, to Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, these women have gone above and beyond to become the face of technology. In no particular order, Techy gives the modest tribute to these amazing women.
1. Ada Lovelace Augusta Ada King
Countess of Lovelace’s mother, is widely considered as the world’s first programmer. She worked on the projected computer, Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. She saw that this engine was capable of more than just calculating and had released the first algorithm that this machine was designed to carry out. She was the first to grasp the promise of computers and the first to program them.
In her words, “a new, broad, and powerful language is established for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that they may become of more rapid and exact practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means previously in our possession have made feasible.” In the mathematical universe, not only the mental and the physical, but also the theoretical and the practical, are brought into closer and more effective contact.
It’s important to remember that Charles Babbage only proposed computers. Lovelace saw the ramifications that such a computer may have in the world, something that even Babbage did not.
2. Grace Hopper
Grace Hopper was a United States Navy Rear Admiral who earned the nickname “Mother of Computing” in modern times. The title is totally correct, as she popularized the concept of a machine-independent programming language, which led to the development of COBOL. COBOL is an ancient high-level programming language that is still used today. In the late 1940s, Hopper worked at Harvard Computation Lab to program the Mark 1 computers, which considerably improved the military’s computer applications’ QoL (Quality of Life). During the creation of the Mark 1 computer, speed and accuracy were among the numerous aspects that were prioritized. She also contributed to the creation of UNIVAC-1, the world’s first commercial computer. As previously stated, the moniker is entirely correct.
3. Gwynne Shotwell
President & COO of Shotwell, is arguably one of the most prominent women in technology, ranging from computing and programming to the advancements we are making in space. She had intended to work in the motor sector, but she later changed her mind because the position she was offered lacked the hands-on experience she sought. Shotwell has written papers on “conceptual small spacecraft design, infrared signature target modeling, space shuttle integration, and reentry vehicle operational risks,” among other topics. She was the eleventh employee of SpaceX, which is now synonymous with commercial space exploration, and she plays an important role in the company’s success while letting Elon Musk handle the media.
4. Susan Wojcicki
YouTube does not require an introduction. Susan Wojcicki, the company’s CEO, should ideally be as well-known. She was involved in the launch of Google, another vital aspect of our daily life, even before YouTube.
She was in charge of overseeing Google’s AdSense development. This tool has aided the success of millions of businesses throughout the world and is a major source of revenue for Google. Wojcicki changed the way businesses think about advertising and is a key part of Google’s success. In a largely male-dominated business, her acquisitions of YouTube and DoubleClick, probably two of Google’s best judgments to date, have helped cement her reputation as one of the most influential women in technological history.
5. Magaret Hamilton
“Man has taken one modest step forward. One giant step forward for humanity “Without Margaret Hamilton, this quote would never have been heard around the world. Severe software failures occurred seconds before Apollo 11’s last moon landing, including warnings and “never supposed to happen displays” that significantly disrupted the operation. The first man on the moon might have been delayed by several years if Margaret Hamilton had not predicted this years before the launch of Apollo 11.
Hamilton’s work is widely credited by her contemporaries and current generation as the foundation for ultra-reliable software. Margaret is also responsible for the term “software engineering,” which would not have existed otherwise.
She had no idea that when she (together with Anthony Oettinger and Barry Boehm) invented the term as a running joke, she would go on to develop a name that is now connected with the careers of millions of software engineers all over the world!
Many of our other favorites are included in this post, including Adele Goldberg, the creator of the Smalltalk programming language, Fran Allen, the first woman to win the Turing award for her work in parallel computing, and many more!
Of course, this list in no way diminishes the contributions of many other women over the years. It’s simply our sincere gratitude to all the women who have affected our lives in the computer business.