Women are horribly underrepresented in the world of tech with only about 18% of computer science grads being women. It wasn’t always like this, in fact back in the early 80’s the number was more than double, despite women being pioneers in the computer programming world. However none have the notoriety of some of the men in the industry. Here are 5 female programmers who blazed a trail in technology that deserve some credit.
Jean was the last of a group of female mathematicians responsible for programming ENIAC, the first digital computer used in WWII. This machine was a milestone for modern computing. Back when it was being developed the hardware was considered the important part and programming, not so much. The women who wrote the code for the machine weren’t even deemed important enough to be introduced when the computer was unveiled.
Grace is often referred to as Grandma COBOL, she was a Rear Admiral in the navy and she changed how computers would communicate with one another. Computers language consisted of binary code, strings of ones and zeros, and it is too difficult for programmers to read. She wanted a computer language that was closer to English. That led to the development of COBOL. Today more than 53% of businesses are still using COBOL to build applications. She is also responsible for the term “bug” to describe errors in code. Check her out on Dave Letterman.
Marissa is probably the most famous women in IT, she became the CEO of tech giant Yahoo at only 36 years old. Prior to that she got her education at Stanford and joined Google in 1999 as the first female engineer. Back then Google only had a handful of employees but Marissa was responsible for some of Google’s most popular products including Google Earth, Gmail, Google Maps and Google News. Can you imagine Google without any of these products today? Marissa is a symbol of what women can do in the IT sector.
These women were instrumental in blazing a trail in the IT industry. Not only were their accomplishments pretty incredible most will be overlooked in the history books. The role of women in IT needs to change, not only do we need a bigger presence in this industry we need to give the women who are already there the recognition that they deserve. This is how you encourage the next generation of women to pursue a career in technology.