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The Role of Women in Creating Modern Computers

  • Post published:November 2, 2021

Do you also think that computer science is not a field for females? You might want to change your outlook on this.

We all have faced a common stereotype that coding and software development is not ladies’ stuff. But, history has retaliated and provided solid testimonies against the role of females in the development of computers.

Let’s talk about our look at female computer scientists whose contributions left us amazed and jolted the world to its core.

Female Computer Scientists: Their Significant Contributions to Computer Science

Women have been playing primary roles in the development of modern computers since the beginning but their shortage in the field is no secret. But today, women are seen eagerly exploring the vast fields of computer science and technology. They are joining STEM careers and pursuing degrees in CS, Artificial Intelligence, Data Science, and many more.

So, we are going to talk about those female computer pioneers who deserve to be remembered as role models not only for women but for men too. Let’s recall all their efforts and labors devoted to the field of computer science and information technology and educate those who unfortunately are getting to know them for the first time today.

Female computer scientists

Here we reveal some female computer scientists of yesterday, today, tomorrow, years to come, till eternity:

  • Ada Lovelace
  • Megan Smith
  • Grace Hopper
  • Margaret Hamilton
  • Katherine Johnson
  • Stephanie Shirley

Female Computer Pioneers: The Story of ENIAC Computer

The tale of ENIAC Girls is not hidden from our knowledge. Despite their groundbreaking endeavor, they remained invisible to the world for long. Today we want to relive the stories of those female computer scientists yet again because we still fail to understand how their remarkable contributions were tucked away and buried artfully owing to some strange convictions.

In 1946, a researcher named Kathy Kleiman saw photos of the ENIAC computer that left her stunned, teary-eyed, and breathless. In those photos, a bunch of men was pictured standing next to the ENIAC computer with their names and contributions written but there was no information about the women standing alongside those men.

Kathy, out of sheer curiosity went to the computer history museum in Boston to explore those women’s identities. She talked to the Co-Founder of the Computer History Museum and got this answer: “the women standing in the photo were models, asked to pose in front of the machine to make it look good.” This reply left her dejected and woeful. But she did not accept the answer. She continued to believe that the picture portrayed their deep connection with the machine.

Female Computer Pioneers The Story of ENIAC Computer

On the 40th anniversary of ENIAC in 1986, the researcher discovered the true reality behind that photo. She met the women in the pictures and proved that there were no models, but ENIAC programmers.

Those women programmed that massive device on their own without much knowledge of programming languages, manuals, compilers, or operating systems. They were great mathematicians who worked so hard to produce a gigantic machine of the future. We appreciate their efforts!

ENIAC female computer scientists

Today those female computer scientists are known as ‘ENIAC Girls’ and their names are Fran Bilas, Betty Jennings, Ruth Lichterman, Kay McNulty, Betty Snyder, and Marlyn Wescoff.

Ada Lovelace: The First Tech Visionary

Ada Lovelace is one of those female computer scientists who is commonly recognized for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.

She was a passionate mathematician and titled as the world’s first computer programmer at the age of 12 years.

Ada Lovelace The First Tech Visionary

Megan Smith: The Remarkable Women

In 2014, Magan was the first female chief technology officer in the US, and in January 2017, she served the White House.

Megan was Vice President at Google, stayed General Manager at Google Org for 10 years, she is the former CEO of Planet Out, also worked on early smartphones at General Magic, and later took on a role in the Federal government.

She even introduced a tech hackathon, a protective suit for health workers fighting for the Ebola virus.

Today she is the CEO and Founder of shift7, also an advisor for Tech Job Tours. She is the only amongst many female computer scientists who worked under former President Barack Obama.

Grace Hopper: The Computer Pioneer

Grace Hopper was the first programmer of the electromechanical computer named Harvard Mark I computer i.e. useful in World War II. She is better known for her cutting-edge contributions to computer programming, software development, and the design and implementation of programming languages.

In 1944, she contributed to the development of automatic sequence-controlled calculators by creating a 500-pages manual of operations. Her inventions influenced the computing developments such as subroutines, code optimization, and formula transition.

Hopper’s best piece was the establishment of UNIVAC, the primary full electronic digital computer. She designed the first computer compiler, a program that interprets written instructions into codes that computers read directly. She co-developed COBOL, one of the earliest standardized computer languages after this work.

Margret Hamilton: The NASA Woman

Margret is amongst female computer scientists who is now a director at the software engineering department of MIT instrumentation laboratory.

Margret Hamilton took humans to the moon by working on Apollo 11, and in 2003, she received NASA exceptional space act award for her scientific contributions.

Katherine Johnson: The First Black NASA Women

Katherine was a math enthusiast. She is one of those female computer scientists that helped put a man on the Moon.

In 1950, Katherine confirmed the accuracy of electronic computers for NASA and performed critical calculations to ensure safe space travels.

In 1960, she contributed to a research report that utilized equations for orbital spaceflight.

Stephanie Shirley: The Female Who Coined the Term Software Engineering

Stephanie Shirley is one of the most influential female computer scientists who built an empire in 1960s England but with the help of all-female, work-from-home staff. She, with the help of her female staff, initiated the idea of women working under a flexible working system.

Stephanie went on and launched her software firm ‘Freelance Programmers’ and became a part of Sopra Steria Group as well.

Now she focuses on philanthropy through different projects related to IT and is a public speaker of Oxford Internet Institute.

She is directed to research how the internet affects economic, ethical, legal, and social issues.

Female Computer Scientists of Today

The role of women in the IT industry is growing day-by-day as they are researching and planning to improve programming languages, inventing new technologies, and providing the public with modern tools to lead better lives.

A 2020 research study by the Institute said that women make up 28.8% of the tech workforce. Another survey stated that women hold 26.5% of executive, senior-level, and management positions in 500 companies.

Today, female computer scientists amount to only 5.31 percent of all respondents.

Female Computer Scientists in GAFAM
Ratio of Female Computer Scientists

Are you a woman and want to progress your IT development skills? Nextbridge is the place where you can prosper and enlighten your skills to grow more.

If you wish to know about female computer scientists, you should check the story of our Mechatronics Engineer.