To honor Women’s History Month this March, let’s pay tribute to all of the brilliant women who have been a necessary part of defining and advancing technology.
While according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, America’s STEM workforce (citizens with careers in science, technology, engineering or mathematics), has only consisted of 25% women consistently for the last decade, this fact cannot discredit the mark women have left on technology throughout the years. Obtaining a STEM degree is not a common first choice among the ladies and many of those who do earn tech degrees later decide to work outside their studied field such as education and healthcare. None the less women have been making quite notable contributions to technology since the 1800s.
Ada Lovelace was likely the first female techie, and has been referred to as “The Enchantress of Numbers” by author Betty A. Toole, in her book of letters from the British Countess of the 1800s. The educated daughter of poet Lord Byron was one of World’s the first computer programmers, who worked alongside computer pioneer, Charles Babbage and wrote programmes for his analytical engines.
Grace Hopper, along with receiving her Ph.D. from Yale and her naval accomplishments in WWII, in 1952 she created the first computer compiler, a program that could translate codes from one computer language to another, when until then, it had was believed that computers were only capable of arithmetic.
Susan Kare, interface designer for Apple in the 80s designed the first computer icons. Thanks to her, your computer operations are simple, just find the picture and click. And while icons have since come along way, your desktop trash can likely looks much like her original design.
In 1985, Radia Perman invented the Spanning Tree Protocol, which solved many ethernet routing issues and allowed for the creation of much larger networks.
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank are innovators of e Commerce and co-founders of Gilt Groupe. Their company defines new ways of moving luxury merchandise through membership rewards and flash sales and is currently worth over $1 billion.
These and many other intelligent women have helped shape our modern technology. Things have changed a lot over the years giving women the legal right and society’s support to work in any field they desire. Though the majority of modern women would still rather work in a non technical field, it will be interesting to see if future generations of women will be more interested in technology, and what new advancements they will come up with.
[Image via mactrast]