Enable javascript in your browser for better experience. Need to know to enable it? Go here.
Blogs Banner

Important Women in Technology

We are close to celebrating Ada Lovelace day on the 15th October so it seems important to take time to remember those women whose lives have been landmarks in the history of technology.

With this we begin with Ada Lovelace (1815 -1852)  by highlighting her research on Babbage's Analytical Engine.   The research includes the first description of computers and softwares, as well as an algorithm for solving the Bernoulli numbers.  This is considered to be the first algorithm developed and implemented in a computer.  Hence, we refer to her as one of the first programmers.

Continuing on our tour of important women, I would like to remember the military officer Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1992).   Her contribution to technology was the development of the first compiler in 1953 that translated English instructions into machine language.  This contribution would provide the basis for COBOL language development; curiously her Admiral received the Man of the Year award in Computer Science in 1969 .

Going further in our journey we will focus on the ENIAC, the first general-purpose computer made in Pennsylvania University in 1946. Its programming team comprised of Kathleen McNulty ( 1921-2006 ), Betty Holberton (1917 - 2001), Marlyn WestCoff (- 2008 ), Ruth Teitelbaum ( 1924-1986 ), Frances Spence ( 1922 ) and Betty Jennings ( 1924-2011 ).  These women’s contributions were: the first routine of sorting, the first software application , the first set of instructions and the first classes, the basis of current software industry .

When speaking of inspiring women, we should name many more.  However, I wanted to focus on remembering the key one’s who were the pioneers in the art of computing and who have received the honor of belonging to the Hall of Fame of Women in Technology (WITI).

The Institute for Women in Technology recognizes the work of women as valuable. There are also other institutions that seek to empower women's participation in technology, like the Grace Hopper Institute, which provides a collaborative network and mentoring for women in computing.  It was co-founded by two women, Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994.

The example of the Grace Hopper Institute shows that women are the ones who support other women, however in saying this it should not detract from the work that many men have done to support women in IT.

It is our responsibility as women to continue to provide the space that enhances the participation and passion of others women in technology.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

Keep up to date with our latest insights