Say Watt? High Voltage Woman Power is leaving Electricity in the Dust!
Unbeknownst to many, the first computers weren’t machines, and the first programmers weren’t men. In fact, in both cases they were women!
As proud members of CAMSC (Canadian Aboriginal & Minority Supplier Council), VTRAC recognizes the valuable contributions women and minorities have made, and continue to make, to our ever-growing world of technology. That’s why this week we want to celebrate the top tech accomplishments made by women by counting down our top five.
- Cracking the Universe
#Starpower – In the late 1800’s, the Harvard College Observatory was full of men and telescopes gathering and compiling raw data. Once collected, the next step would be to organize, compute and analyze the information to make it useful. The unfortunate stigma of clerical work for men at that time created a reluctance to dive into the data. The head of the Observatory at the time actually enlisted his housemaid, Williamina Fleming, to work as a “computer” at Harvard. She agreed, and went on to lead a team of more than 80 women who did the computational work that’s responsible for how we understand the universe today!
- The Women of ENIAC
#GirlPower – As the idea of computer work continue to be stigmatized as women work, Harvard’s “computers” grew into a super-group of female mathematicians that computed ballistic trajectory data for the U.S. Military during WWII. It was the initial of idea of 2 men to build a machine capable of carrying out these calculations – a machine that called ENIAC that would go onto to be considered the world’s first electrical computer, it was actually 6 women (Kathleen McNulty, Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances Synder Holber, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum ) who became the world’s first coders and manipulated the ENIAC to calculated missile trajectories!
- Hybrid Cars
#HiddenFigures – Working at the mid-century agency, NACA, which would later go on to become NASA, and one of only four African-American employees, it was a female programmer, Dorothy Vaughn, who was working on energy conversion systems who established code that led to the development of the battery used in the first hybrid cars! Want to learn more? Check out the 2016 film ”Hidden Figures!”
#GoogleThat – We can also thank another bright woman for her contributions to search engine technologies. It was a female computer scientist, # Karen Spärck Jones , who implemented synonym-seeking thesauri into search engine technology, allowing for computational recognition of similar words. And, if that’s not enough, she also laid the foundations for information retrieval “term weighing” methodologies which help queries determine which terms of a search are most relevant.
- Smart Woman. Smart Phones.
#DialedIn – Can you remember a time before the Smart Phone? If so, maybe you remember the ever so popular Palm Pilot. Initially built and proto-typed by Mr. Jeff Hawkins, it is a bright female Harvard alum, Donna Dubinsky, whose work can be credited for introducing the powerful PDA’s (“Personal Digital Assistants”) to the rest of the world after building the first PDA company, Palm. She is also accredited for founding a company called Handspring which led to major PDA advancements such as program development and data storage.
While we could only pick our top 5 for this article, we greatly appreciate all the efforts of women everywhere for their brilliant contributions to technology, and look forward to see what the future women of tech will bring. If you’re a woman in tech, we’d love to meet you! Contact Us today to see how we can we work together to bring some ideas into realities!