In celebration of Mother’s Day, we wanted to take time out to focus on some of the most innovative and important women in the tech industry. It is no secret; the tech industry is a male dominated industry and some of the roles women have played in the creation of, design of, and implementation of, may be a bit of a surprise.
Computer Programming: Ada Lovelace
Even though Ada was alive during the mid 1800’s she was the first to recognize “machines” weren’t limited to pure calculation but had significant opportunities beyond. She was also credited for publishing the first algorithm to be carried out by such a machine. Ada is also known as the first computer programmer.
Mother of Computing: Grace Hopper
Grace possibly lucked into her popularity as she was declined enlistment into the Navy during World War II as she was 34 years old and deemed “too old.” She instead enlisted into the Navy Reserves and began her computing career where she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer (Electromechanical computer that was used during the end of WWII) as well as systems that led to the development of COBOL (computer programming language).
Personal Computer: Mary Allen Wilkes
Mary had her heart set on becoming a lawyer but was discouraged by her peers. This led her to work in the computer industry as it was one of the only industries women were widely accepted. She is most known for her work with the LINC computer, which is now recognized as the first personal computer.
Google: Karen Sparck Jones
Karen didn’t necessarily create google but her work in natural language processing and information retrieval has led to the search engines like google we use today. Karen studied then spent her career working at Cambridge University.
NASA Computer: Katherine Johnson
Katherine became more notable recently when the movie, Hidden Figures, where NASA (like others) used women as “computers.” Katherine was known to be one of the best at calculating trajectories, launch windows and maybe most famously, the emergency return route for the Project Mercury flight.
Smart Phones: Donna Dubinsky
Following a tenure at Apple, Donna spent time at Claris (a software subsidiary of Apple), served as CEO of Palm, Inc. and co-founded both Handspring and Numenta. With Palm, Inc. Donna played an integral role in the development of personal digital assistants (PDA’s). The Palm Pilot was one of the first devices that has led to the development of what we use today as a “smart phone.”
The majority of women of influence on this list played a major role in things we use on a daily basis. The negative would be the majority of these women influenced by chance, seclusion from other careers, and a long time ago. On a positive note; several organizations have emerged over the past few years to promote women in STEM fields. Hopefully we have many more distinguished women in tech to speak of in the future.