As we are drawing to the end of Women’s History Month, it is essential to take note of the top influential pioneers who aided the transformation of the tech industry and still have a strong impact in today’s world of tech.
Focusing particularly on women, even though there are minimal women in the tech industry, and also in STEM, there is a continuous desire to address the decline in interest from young girls to STEM subjects/careers.
Before this uprising, strong female pioneers used their skills to bring about a transformation in the first place; could there even be such a thing as women in tech if not for influential females who conquered roles such as the ‘the first computer programmer’ or ‘the first tech lecturer’?
Even within the ever growing presence of digital transformation, many of these female pioneers still have an ongoing legacy which remains within the industry.
CBR lists 10 of the most influential female Tech pioneers, who’s names are still heard of today in the industry in one way or another.
First is highly recognised computer programmer Ada Lovelace, who was the first to create an algorithm for the first computer program machine in the mid-1800s.
Referred to as the ‘Prophet of the Computer Age’, Lovelace had educational interest in science and maths as a child which led to her friendship with Cambridge mathematics professor, Charles Babbage, who invented a calculating machine.
Although Lovelace didn’t receive much recognition during her life, she began to influence modern computer science and the technology industry from the 1950s.
Today, Ada the National College for Digital Skills, which opened in September 2016, is aimed at recruiting young students over the next five years for a wide range of digital careers such as software and database developers, user experience designers and tech entrepreneurs.
In line with its digital strategy, the UK government is to fund Ada to develop a primarily online learning platform by summer this year. This is to pilot innovative techniques, gamified content and peer-to-peer elements to develop coding skills.
The Ada College is to also partner with Google to launch the Higher Level Apprenticeship in Digital Innovation Program, which will offer software engineering careers to students with a passion to experience working for a tech company whilst studying for a degree in Computer Science.
Grace Hopper was also a computer programmer, who helped develop the first computer language compiler which led to the creation of the Common Business-Oriented (COBOL) language.
Prior to this, computers only spoke in binary code that humans were unable to understand so Hopper decided to change this by creating new kinds of readable programming language which would make programming more accessible and enjoyable for people to become more interested in the field.
Hopper’s legacy still stands as many of the programming languages that she helped to create are still used by government agencies and IT leaders that aim to modernise their IT systems.
In memory of Hopper, is The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, which is the largest convention for female Computer Scientists and Technologists to date. The convention is hosted yearly in USA and offers a range of educational and professional development courses and workshops. This also includes a lesson on compilers, invented and pioneered by Hopper.
Another form of recognition was formed by female employees at Microsoft who set up an employee group named Hoppers and also established a scholarship in honour of Grace Hopper. The group now has over 3000 members worldwide.