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Inspirational Women in Tech

English Mathematician & Writer

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer. She created work for Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanincal general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.

Lovelace published the first algorithm that would be used by the machine when she recognized the machine had a purpose beyond pure calculation. Thanks to this, she is sometimes regarded as the first to recognize the full potential of a computing machine and one of the first programmers.

American Computer Scientist

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was an American Computer Scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral. She received her Ph.D in mathematics at Yale University and taught at Vassar College. Hopper joined the Navy Reserves after being denied to the Navy during WW2 due to her age.

While in the reserves she helped create the Harvard Mark 1. Afterwards, she joined a company called Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation helping to create the UNIVAC 1 computer. At Eckert-Mauchly Hopper created a compiler that coverted English terms into machine code that computer could understand.

American Mathematician

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is an African-American mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights. Johnson spent 35 years at NASA earning a reputation for mastering complicated manual calculations.

Her calculations were so essential to the beginning of the space shuttle program that she helped calculate trajectories for the Apollo lunar lander and worked on plans for missions to Mars. Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama and was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson as the lead role in the 2016 film Hidden Figures.

American Mathematician

Evelyn Boyd Granville was the second African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics from an American University; she earned it in 1949 from Yale University. Granville went on in her career teaching mathematics at 5 colleges, one a HBCU (Fisk College) and also worked on various projects for the North American Aviation Space and Information Division. Granville has benn a strong advocate for women’s education in technology.

Programmer

Jean Jennings Bartik was one of the original programmers for the ENIAC computer. She studied mathematics in school then began work at the University of Pennsylvania, first manually calculating ballistics trajectories as human computers, then using ENIAC to do so.

Bartik and 5 other women signed up for a project to manage the computer as its first programmers. Their duties were to come up with problems for the ENIAC to solve, even without being taught any techniques. While the women worked on the ENIAC, they developed programming techniques each as nesting and subroutines and some think they invented the discipline of programming digital computers.

Dame Vera Stephanie “Steve” Shirley is a British information technology pioneer, businesswoman and philanthropist.  In order to be taken seriously in the male-dominated business world, Dame Shirley took on the name “Steve” instead of using her real name. She founded a software company in the 1960’s called Xansa that created job opportunities for women with dependents by predominantly hiring women.

American Computer Scientist

Anita Borg was an American Computer Scientist. She founded the Institute for Women and Technology and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. She was passionate about getting more representation for technical women and had a goal to get 50% of women into computing by 2020.

Computer Science Researcher

Jeannette Marie Wing is Avanessians Director of the Data Sciences Institute at Columbia University, where she is also a professor of computer science. As well as being a teacher, Wing has also been a leading member of the formal methods community, particularly in areas of Larch.

Wing has also been a strong promoter of computational thinking, expressing algorithmic problem-solving and abstraction techniques and how they might be applied in other disciplines.

Computer Scientist

Telle Whitney is the former CEO and President of the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (formerly known as the Institute for Women and Technology). A computer scientist by training, she cofounded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

Whitney and Anita Borg founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of women in computing conference in 1994 where they had the largest gathering of women in computing in the world. They had their first conference in 1994 that brought together 500 technical women.

Actress, Inventor

The Austrian-born Hollywood star is popularly known for defining 40’s glamor, but in recent years, she has also been embraced by the Internet for her scientific and intellectual achievements. While she had no formal scientific or engineering training, she was a restless and tireless inventor, constantly coming up with ideas and trying to build and perfect them in real life.

Her best-known and most consequential contribution was a torpedo guidance system that was resistant to radio jamming. In later decades, this innovation served as the basis for a wide range of civilian radio communications technologies, including WiFi and Bluetooth. For this and other contributions, she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Known as “America’s first female cryptanalyst”, she was instrumental in decoding three Enigma machines along with Alan Turing and solved dozens of radio circuits to decipher around four thousand Nazi messages that saved many lives during World War 2. 

A pioneer code breaker, she helped – along with her husband – invent the science of modern cryptology, which is used to this day by US intelligence agencies, as well as many technologies like text messages, emails and bitcoin.

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