A Brief HERstory of Computer Science


Women have been in computer science since before computers were invented. But sometimes they get overshadowed by their male counterparts, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. However, it is estimated that by 2020 there will be 1.4 computer related jobs, but that women will fill only 3%. That just makes the achievements of women in computer science all the more important.

Ada Lovelace: (December 10 1815 – November 27 1852). Lovelace was born in London and expressed an interest in maths from a young age. When she was just 18 she met Charles Babbage, known now as “the father of computers”. Her most well known work was on his analytical machine, which is now seen as a prototype for the first computer. She wrote the first ever algorithms for this machine and was very devoted to improving it.Because of this she is known as the first female programmer.

Grace Hopper: (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992). Hopper was born in New York City.In 1934 she earned a Ph.D in maths from Yale and during World War II, she enlisted in the US Navy despite being 15 pounds underweight. In 1952 she created the first compiler, which is a program used to turn programming languages into computer languages, so the computer can read your code. Many people doubted that she actually created one. Two years later she was named director of automatic programming at her company. She finally retired from the military at age 80 after being promoted to Rear Admiral. To commemorate her retirement she was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat award. Just last month, 24 years after her death, she was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

Margaret Hamilton: (August 17, 1936-). Hamilton was born in Indiana, and received a bachelors degree in maths from the University of Michigan and later moved to Boston with the intention of getting her masters in abstract maths and during that time she started developing software for MIT. Later Hamilton joined the Charles Stark Draper Lab at MIT. The lab was working on the Apollo space missions, and her team was responsible for developing in-flight software. Hamilton herself wrote thousands of lines of code by hand in what she described as a “male-dominated” industry. Hamilton also coined the term “software engineering”. Along with Grace Hopper and several others, Hamilton received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.





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