The 8th March 2023 marks International Women’s Day. A day created to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. In addition, this day is a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
The field of technology is heavily male dominated so I thought it was fitting that we talk about some of the wonderful women who have pioneered the tech industry over the years.
1. Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace, born in London in 1815, was homeschooled by her mother who insisted that she was taught mathematics and science. Her mothers persistence worked out in her favour, as she is now known to be the first programmer due to her written notes explaining how the notion of an engine could transition calculation to computation.
To this day, she is considered one of the most famous women in technology, and is seen as the “Prophet of the Computer Age”.
In 2009 Suw Charman-Anderson founded Ada Lovelace Day, which is held every year on the second Tuesday of October. A day created to celebrate the achievements of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
2. Hedy Lamarr
Hedy was born in 1914 in stunning Vienna, Austria. She was a famous actress, however, she harboured many more talents. She was a completely self-taught inventor who created the technology that would one day form the basis for modern-day inventions, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
Her greatest invention was a frequency hopping device that she created with the assistance of George Antheil. During World War II, this Secret Communication System device was used to steer radio-guided torpedoes off course.
3. Sister Mary Keller
Born in 1913 in Cleveland, Ohio, Sister Mary Keller is known for being the first woman to ever receive a PHD in computer science in the US. Prior to her remarkable achievement, she had studied Mathematics and Physics, made vows as a Roman Catholic religious sister in Ohio, and in 1958 began to work at Dartmouth College in their (at the time) male-only computer centre.
4. Mary Allen Wilkes
Mary Allen Wilkes was born in 1937 in Chicago, Illinois. She initially wanted to start her career as a lawyer, however, she was heavily discouraged due to the field not being very cordial to women at that time. During this lull, she remembered what her eighth grade geography teacher said to her, that she was destined to be a computer programmer.
Upon embarking on her new path in life, she designed the software for the LINC, which was one of the earliest systems of an interactive personal computer. LINC was used by her at home for the first time in 1965, making her the first home computer user.
5. Annie Easley
Annie Easley, born in 1933, Birmingham Alabama was a renowned mathematician, computer and rocket scientist. Annie was a pioneer for gender and racial diversity in STEM.
She was one of only four African Americans who worked at NASA (then known as NACA) and had contributed to numerous programs as a computer scientist. The work Annie contributed to on the Centaur rocket project paved the way for space shuttle launches in the future.
I could spend hours writing about the many amazing women who have and continue to contribute to make today’s world and society a better place. Strong women who have fought for what they truly believe in. And women who have dedicated their lives to make real changes.
But for now, I shall just keep it short and sweet.
This International Women’s Day, we make a toast.
Here’s to the amazing women. Past, present and future 🥂