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7 ICONIC WOMEN WHO HAVE SHAPED THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY

Thursday 28th September 2017
The gender-gap is a highly discussed topic in the tech industry.

Even though the figures are still relatively low for women in technology, progress is being made. There are growing number of up and coming movements devoted to encouraging more young girls into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) industries and coding is now incorporated in the school curriculum. 

Despite women only making up 25% of the tech workforce, those women who are in tech are making a pretty big impact. Digital visionaries such as Martha Lane Fox of Lastminute.com and Silicon valley COO’s such as Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Susan Woyjicki of Youtube and Marissa Mayer  formerly of Yahoo are paving the way and inspiring young women into tech and sending the message that technology doesn’t need to be ‘ a man’s world’.

When we look at the technology industry over time, it would seem that it would be a completely different place if female technologists hadn’t existed.

Read about 7 of these iconic female technologists who have shaped the tech industry below…

Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer. She’s most well known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general purpose computer – the analytical engine. Making her more commonly known as the first ever programmer!

Ada wrote the world’s first Algorithim for an early computing machine that existed only on paper in ‘Binery code’.

Betty Holberton and the ENIAC six
Betty Holberton was one of the six original programmers of The ENIAC (electronic numerical integrator and computer) - the first general purpose electric digital computer.

Durring WW2 the American army needed qualified people to complete ballistics trajectories. With qualified men scared due to fighting overseas the army looked to educated women.

Holberton was hired along with Kay McNulty, Marilyn Wescoff, Ruth Lichteman, Betty Jean Jennings and Fran Bilas to perform calculations for the ballistics trajectories electronically for the Army’s research lab. The programmers had none of the programming tools of today and it was a challenge to make the ENIAC work. The six programmers had to physically conduct the ballistic program using 3000 switches and dozens of switches and digital trays to route the data and program pulses through the machine.

Their work later earned them a spot in the ‘Women in technology international Hall of fame’. (Although the women’s work was not even acknowledged until decades later.)

Grace Hopper
“Queen of software to some, grandma COLBOL to others”

Grace Hopper helped invent some of the most prominent early English programming languages. In particular, she is widely recognised for her involvement in developing the business orientated COLBOL programming language.

Before the likes of Grace Hopper’s language based programming, computers spoke exclusively in “Binery Code” which is illegible to human beings.

Hedy Lamarr
Hedy was famous for being a screen star in the 1920s, but also found fame by playing a key role in the invention of “Spread Spectrum” and frequency hopping technology – a method of sending radio signals from different frequency channels.

Hedy and her co- inventor George Antheil developed the tech originally to help the navy control tornedos. 

Her work on spread spectrum technology has played a massive part in the development of many modern wireless technologies such as: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access.)

Marissa Mayer
In more recent times, Marissa Mayer has made a huge impact in the tech sector.

She was Google’s first female engineer, employed in 1999. Her work on Google maps, Google books, Google images and Gmail helped catapult Google into being the world’s number 1 search destination.

She has also inspired and paved the way for many other female employees at Google and has since gone on to take over as CEO of tech giant Yahoo.

Margaret Hamilton
‘Her code got humans to the moon’…

Margaret Hamilton developed pioneering software which helped land the lunar module and it’s crew on the moon in 1969.

Minutes before the lunar lander reached the Moon's surface on 20 July 1969, several computer alarms were triggered. But, thanks to Mrs Hamilton's foresight, the Nasa team was able to see that the alert was nothing critical, and the landing went ahead. If it wasn’t for Margart Hamilton’s software the Apollo 11 landing would not have been the success it was.

In 2016 Hamilton was awarded the highest civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former US president, Barack Obama. Obama said ‘Margaret Hamilton symbolises that generation of unsung women who helped humankind into space’.

Martha Lane Fox
After developing an interest in the internet from an early age. Martha founded lastminute.com in 1998. Since then she has become one of the UK’s most iconic, powerful digital campaigners.

“I don’t know exactly how it happened but the absence of women is having a profound impact on the services we use everyday” (Martha Lane Fox on the gender gap in tech.)

She is founder and chairman of digital skills charity ‘Go On UK’ which encourages more people to explore digital skills based careers. She was also appointed to be the governments digital inclusion champion and later entered the House of Lords as it’s youngest female member!

Stay tuned for our infographic coming soon!
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