This Women’s Month, we’re thinking about all the key female players in the development of technology – the Mothers of Tech, so to speak. Now, we’ll be honest, we found some amazing women and stories, but can only write about a few.
Thus, in no particular order, please meet five Mothers of Technology.
Ada is widely recognised as the world’s first computer programmer due to instructions she published in 1843, even though the first computer was only built in 1946, 103 years later. As a child, she was taught math and science and later became close friends with Charles Babbage, a Cambridge math professor and inventor of the calculating machine. She was asked to translate an article for Charles, and while working on the article, she found several errors and added her own thoughts.
Edith was a go-getter and did not let the limitations placed on women keep her down. She was the first woman to receive an M.S. in electrical engineering from MIT, and she built and patented the Clark Calculator. It was her life-long dream to be an engineer, and although she faced plenty of obstacles, in 1922, she became the first professional female electrical engineer.
Grace was a first in many fields:
- She was the first woman to graduate from Yale with a Ph.D. in mathematics.
- She was the first female U.S. Navy Rear Admiral.
- She invented of the first compiler.
- She coined the phrase “computer bug” (she found a moth in the computer processor)
- She invented FLOW-MATIC, the first semi-English processing language.
Grace went against the norm – s he didn’t like doing things the “same as always”. She was so set against this that her wall clock ran counter-clockwise.
Sister Mary Kenneth Keller
She was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in computer science and broke the “men-only” rule when she briefly entered Dartmouth. During her time at Dartmouth, she was instrumental in developing BASIC, a computer language. This programming language gave people who did not have a math or sciene degree access to programming. She later also joined Clark College in Iowa, where she created and headed the Computer Science Department.
Evelyn Boyd Granville
A perpetual optimist, Evelyn fought for her place in society and to make a difference, despite the restrictions she faced due to her race, sex and class. Working hard and scraping money together, she attended Smith College and later Yale, where she received her Ph.D. becoming the second black woman in the USA to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics.
Evelyn’s passion, however, led in space. She started real-time calculations of satellite launchings and studied rocket trajectories, which led to her being instrumental in the U.S. space race.