The Impact of Women in Technology

Connection

Technology is a field that is often thought of as male-dominated, and though men do seem to be the face of modern technology, women have been innovating, inventing, and leading the way to new advancements for just as long as men have. This Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate just some of these inspiring figures in the history of tech. From the first programmer to one of the inventors of the Internet—and beyond—we’d like to share a timeline of women’s accomplishments in technology. Some of these names are probably familiar to you, but we also hope you learn a little something about our industry.

A Short History of Women’s Contributions in Tech

1842

Ada Lovelace published the first algorithm, to be run by Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, making her the first computer programmer—before we were able to actually invent computers, even.

1921

Edith Clarke was an electrical engineer at GE. She invented the Clarke calculator, which could solve line equations with hyperbolic functions ten time faster than any other process.

1942

The women at the Moore School of Engineering set up the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) to calculate bomb trajectories in WWII.

1949

Evelyn Boyd Granville became the second African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University. She used her considerable talents to help with the Apollo space program, including calculating celestial mechanics and trajectories.

1950s

Grace Hopper invented FLOW-MATIC, the first data processing language to resemble actual English and a predecessor of the influential programing language COBOL.

1960s

Margaret Hamilton is credited with coming up with the term “software engineering.” She led a team that developed the in-flight software for the Apollo missions and Skylab.

1961

Katherine Johnson was instrumental to calculating the launch window for Alan Shepard’s first space flight. Later, the astronaut John Glenn refused to use the numbers calculated for his orbit by electronic computers unless they were verified by Johnson.

1965

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller became the first American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science. She went on to advocate for the use of computers in education and to encourage women to get involved in computer science.

1984

Radia Perlman invented the spanning tree protocol (STP), one of the foundations of the Internet as we know it.

1993

Shafi Goldwasser received the Gödel Prize in Mathematics for co-inventing probabilistic encryption, the basis for modern data encryption security.

1999

Marissa Mayer was hired as the first female engineer at Google. She became part of the 3-person team who created AdWords (now GoogleAds), Google’s primary revenue generator.

2005

Ruchi Sanghvi became the first female engineer at Facebook. She was instrumental in creating the platform’s News Feed, rolled out in 2006.

2012

Ginni Rometty became the first woman to head IBM, serving as president, chairperson, and CEO.

2018

Gladys West was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame for her work in developing GPS technology.

The Future

These women and their innovations still have an impact on our world today, and this is only a small handful of the incredible minds that shaped technology. We can only begin to imagine what the future holds for today’s women in tech!

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