Women in Computing

Good morning, everybody! A few days ago, I was feeling a little down regarding my choice of career: Computer Science, and I wrote a post about Women in Computing on Tumblr. It has always been seen as a man’s line of work, more than a woman’s, and even today women are disregarded in this field. I have even been prejudiced by classmates as the one who doesn’t do her work and lets her partner do it all.

See, I have done approximately a 75% of all the overall work of all the projects (counting individual AND in pairs). I have even done a project that was not mine, to begin with. So, I started to think this morning and I came to realize, this is a woman’s profession just as it is a man’s. I am vastly aware that this is not the only field in which women are not popularly known, of course. But it is the one that bothers me personally most.

I also wrote a Twitter thread about the most known women in Computer Science, even if most people don’t even know of their existence. Still, at least one of them rings a bell. As I feel the need to share this with the world, I will be adding it all here. They are not in any particular order, anyway, enjoy.

1. Ada Lovelace

The one and only, Ada. She was the first person to believe computers wouldn’t just compute, but could also have other applications. She created the first computer algorithm despite not being able to try it since the Babbage Engine was not finished. Despite that, she is the world’s most known woman in this field.

2. Grace Hopper

An American navy admiral who was also the inventor of the first compiler, and she also executed the first debug. She has had broad recognition, for example, she is one of the first 10 people to be “senior programmers”, and she is the first woman of any nationality and first American to be made a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.

3. Hedy Lamarr

Oh, you’re going to love her. She is the one who you have to thank for if you use WiFi or GPS. She was a genius and an actress, she was also the first female orgasm on cinematography history.

She was married to a German Nazi and learned about all that they had to say. Further on, she had an American lover who loved to play the xylophone and, as she switched sides, she used the xylophone as inspiration to jump from frequency to frequency within the radio so the Nazis couldn’t catch her as she gave information to the enemy.

4. Margaret Hamilton

You might have seen her standing next to a huge amount of stacked papers, the ones that have the code written by her (and her team) to take Apollo 11 to the moon. Apollo 11 had a critical point in its mission, where the guidance computer started turning in errors and had to postpone some tasks that could not be attended in real time. Margaret, with the help of her team, created the asynchronous flight software. She was also CEO of her co-founded business HOS (High Order Software).

She is still alive to this day and she is also still being recognized, the last thing on her Wikipedia dates to this past April.

5. Joan Clarke

Have you ever heard of Alan Turing? She is the only woman who worked in his team at Bletchley Park. She reached deputy head at some point, but because of her gender, she wouldn’t reach any higher and would be paid less than her other mates. Side note: Alan Turing proposed to her although he had admitted his homosexuality to her. Long after he died, she worked for GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters).

If you’d like to learn about more women in computing, you can see a timeline on this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_computing.

I would like anyone who reads this to please stop stereotyping this field as a man’s line of work. Women like the ones above need to be given the chance to shine in Computer Science.


Image by Rocher Institute of Technology.