March is Women’s History Month. The National Women’s History Project chooses a new theme each year. This year’s theme is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.”
Let’s kick off the celebration by exploring some of the leading female leaders who have blazed a trail in computer science, software development, and video games.
Grace Hopper was a computer scientist and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral. Hopper was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, created by IBM and used in the war effort in the latter part of World War II. She invented the first compiler of a programming language. Her ideas about machine-independent programming led to the development of COBOL, an English-like language created for business use.
Katherine Johnson is a physicist and mathematician who contributed to U.S. aeronautics and space programs. She participated in the early application of digital electronic computers at NASA. During her work at NASA, she calculated the trajectories, launch windows, and emergency back-up return paths. She worked on multiple NASA missions for Project Mercury, Apollo 11, and the Space Shuttle missions. The movie Hidden Figures follows Johnson’s life as well as other female African-American mathematicians who worked at NASA.
Jean Bartik was one of the original programmers of the ENIAC computer. ENIAC stands for Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer and was one of the earliest general-purpose computers. ENIAC could solve large numerical problems through programming. It was created primarily to calculate artillery firing stables for the U.S. Army’s Ballistic Research Lab. Bartik attended Northwest Missouri State Teachers College and was the only one in her class to graduate with a mathematics degree.
Irma Wyman was among the first computer engineers and the first woman to become a vice president at Honeywell. While still in college, Wyman worked on a missile guidance project used to calculate trajectory. She joined Honeywell after her college graduation. She eventually served as CIO and later VP of Corporate Information Management for Honeywell.
Janese Swanson is an American software developer. She co-developed the first Carmen Sandiego games. Swanson also founded Girl Tech, a company that creates products that make technology more interesting for girls. Her company creates educational materials, toys, and books that encourage girls to explore tech.
Dona Bailey is video game programmer who co-created the arcade video game Centipede. As a young programmer, she was first hired by General Motors where she worked in assembly language programming. During that time, she developed an interest in arcade video games. She later joined Atari, which released Centipede in 1980.
What about you? Want to add your name to the list of notable women technologists? Now’s your chance. Apply today to join our 12-week Java Boot Camp. That’s what Kelsey did. In the boot camp, she realized, “Learning coding is a door to a million other doors.” You can read Kelsey’s story here.
illustration credit roxanabalint / 123RF Stock Photo