Question: Have you heard of Steve Jobs? Mark Zuckerberg? How about Bill Gates?
Answer: I’m fairly confident that your answer is yes.
Question: Have you heard of Ada Lovelace? What about Margaret Hamilton?
Answer: Probably not.
As March comes to a close, so does another Women’s History Month. As a woman working in the tech world, I began to think about the role of women in the industry and their impact. I dug in and did a little research.
Here are a few of my favorite women in tech through the ages.
- Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was an analyst of Charles Babbage‘s analytical engine and is considered by many the “first computer programmer.” She was the daughter of Lord Byron. Lady Byron wished her daughter to be unlike her poet father, so she saw to it that Ada received tutoring in mathematics and science.
- Grace Hopper (1906–1992), was a United States Navy officer and one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I, the first large-scale automatic calculator and a precursor of electronic computers. She is also known as the “Mother of COBOL“(common-business-oriented language). Grace also popularized the term “debugging”. After a moth infiltrated the circuits of Mark I, she coined the term bug to refer to unexplained computer failures.
- Betty Jennings, Betty Snyder, Frances Spence, Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, and Ruth Lichterman were the regularly working programmers of the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). Built during WWII, the ENIAC was the first programmable general-purpose electronic digital computer.
- Ida Rhodes was one of the pioneers in the analysis of systems of programming. She co-designed the C-10 language in the early 1950s for the UNIVAC I. This is a computer system that was used to calculate the census.
- Margaret Hamilton is an American computer scientist and systems engineer. She helped write the computer code for the command and lunar modules used on the Apollo missions to the Moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. President Obama gave Hamilton the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 to recognize her work saying that she encapsulated the “American spirit of discovery that exists in every little girl and little boy.”
- Erna Schneider Hoover was the brains behind the electronic telephone switching system and one of the first software patent holders in tech history. At Bell Laboratories, where she worked for over 32 years, Hoover was described as an important pioneer for women in the field of computer technology.
- Susan Kare, “The Woman Who Gave the Macintosh a Smile”. Susan created the icons and many of the interface elements for the original Apple Macintosh in the 1980s. She designed a suite of icons that made the Macintosh revolutionary—a computer that you could communicate with in pictures.
As the years go on, I hope we continue to see a growing number of women making waves in the technology space. It’s also exciting to see so many wonderful organizations emerge that push women to be involved in coding, technology, and computer science. These organizations are working to close the gender gap that exists in the industry. Some of my favorites are:
Also, while I focused on the women in technology throughout history in this piece, click here for a great piece on the top 12 women in tech right now.
This piece also would not be complete without celebrating one of the top women within our own organization.
Kety Troyer has been with Ongoing Operations for three years and is a key team member as a Level II Support Engineer. Kety has experience in multiple areas of Information Technology and is educated and certified in both Information Technology and Accounting. A high-school teacher encouraged Kety to pursue Computer Science as a degree and she’s been in the tech space ever since she graduated from college.
Happy Women’s History Month 2019!