Top 10 Memorable Women in Tech

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Published on March 31, 2022 by Michelle Pruitt

Reading Time: 4 minutes

For those who follow us on our social platforms, many of you know that we celebrated National Women’s History all month long, elevating iconic women who changed technology. Not only do these women leave a legacy behind, many of you may not know who they are or what they have accomplished. What better way to end this month by recapping our top 10 most memorable women who made their >mark< in history.

10: Elizabeth Feinler

American borned information scientist, Elizabeth Feinler, was the director of the Network Information Systems Center at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) from 1972 to 1989. This center was a bit like a “prehistoric Google,” which was operated for the ARPANET that later evolved into Defense Data Network then finally the internet. The NIC was the first place to publish the resources and directories for the internet, developing the original “white and yellow pages” directories. Her group also developed the domain naming scheme of .com, .edu, .gov, .net and many more that we still use today.

9: Karen Sparck-Jones

British computer scientist Karen Sparck-Jones was responsible for the concept of  inverse document frequency (IDF) which is a weighting factor that evaluates the importance of a word to a document. This set the standard in web search engines and is frequently used to rank a document’s relevance to a search query. Her accomplishment landed her the Lovelace Medal in 2007.

8: Katherine Johnson

Mathematician Katherine Johnson was the first African American woman to work for NASA. Her trajectory analysis was crucial to the success of the first US Space flight that she also worked on plans for a mission to Mars. Johnson’s 33 year career at NASA nicknamed her as the “human computer” for her mathematical capabilities when there was little technology and recognition at the time. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom which is the highest civilian honor in the US.

7: Radia Perlman

American computer programmer and network engineer Radia Perlman left a legacy that impacted tech as we know it. Her invention of the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), was instrumental in making today’s internet possible. The work made a huge impact on the way networks self-organize and move data, basically laying the ground rules of internet traffic. Perlman delivered many keynote speeches internationally and is still an engineer for Dell EMC. 

6: Adele Goldberg

American computer scientist Adele Goldberg was known for her development of the programming language Smalltalk-80, which influenced the first Apple Computer. Goldberg and Alan Kay were involved in the development of design templates that are still used presently in software design.  She eventually collaborated with Steve Jobs demonstrating her team’s graphical user interface concepts (better known as GUI) that he later adopted with the development of the Macintosh desktop environment.

5: Mary Allen Wilkes

Layer and former computer programmer and logic designer Mary Wilkes, is known for her work for designing the software for the Laboratory INstrument Computer (LINC). The LINC was one of the earliest systems of an interactive personal computer. Her use of the LINC at home in 1965 made her the first woman home computer user. Wilkes’ work is recognized and praised internationally. 

4: Annie Easley

African American mathematician, computer and rocket scientist Annie Easley broke through the barriers and achieved monumental success. She was 1 of 4 African American employees working the lab and was a leading member of the contributing team that developed the Centaur rocket stage. Her contributions included developing and implementing code that analyzed alternative power technologies and identifiers to solve problems, which laid the foundation for future shuttle missions. 

3: Hedy Lamarr

Austrian born actress and inventor, Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil invented a radio guidance system that used frequency hopping and spread spectrum technology to defeat the threat of radio jamming by the Axis powers during WWII. It wasn’t until the 1960s when the US navy adopted the technology, however, the primary principals of their work are incorporated into today’s technology – which we all know as Bluetooth and GPS.

2: Grace Hopper

One of the most iconic women in tech, Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper was a computer scientist and one of the first computer programmers to work on the Harvard Mark I. Her work led to the development of COBOL, an early programming language that is still used today. In 1947, she recorded the world’s first real computer bug. It is also said that she coined the phrase: “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

1: Lady Ada Lovelace

English born mathematician and writer, Lady Ada Lovelace is widely known to be the first computer programmer in history. Although she only wrote about a computer, the Analytical Engine (that was never built), she realized that the computer could follow a series of simple commands, a program to perform a complex calculation. Lovelace’s interest and dedication to scientific developments echoed in history. To commemorate her work, the U.S. Department of Defense created a computer language called “Ada,” and was approved on December 10, 1980. The Department of Defense Military Standard for this language (MIL-STD-1815) was given the number of the year of her birth. Various awards and medals have been also named after Lady Lovelace, which were given to other iconic women who made our list, making her the first woman pioneer of her time! 


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