Top Ten Female Computing Stars Through the Decades
The next in our series "top tens" looks at ten of the top female computing pioneers across the decades. Of course, this is only ten out of many, many more and any good search engine will reveal the names of the giants on whose shoulders we stand. Ample evidence that Computing and Computer Science is not a "boy thing" (whatever that means) ...
1. 1840s - Ada LovelaceScience & Society Picture Library
Ada Lovelace points out that once other things, like music, are represented by numbers computers can be much more than just calculators.
2. 1850s - Florence NightingaleHenry Hering (1814-1893) - National Portrait Gallery, London
Florence Nightingale is the first person to combine lots of data with good ways of presenting all those numbers so the patterns can be seen. She successfully uses it to convince politicians to take action over deaths in hospital due to poor cleanliness.
3. 1940s - Dorothy VaughanVaughan Family
Dorothy Vaughan starts work at NACA (later NASA) as a human computer. Breaking down barriers, she becomes the first African-American manager and oversees the change to electronic computers. Her team’s work underpin the design of aircraft and the space programme.
4. 1950s - Grace HopperJames S. Davis
Grace Hopper suggests programming should be done using english words rather than obscure codes or numbers, then writes the first compiler to make it a reality.
5. 1960s - Fran AllenRama CC BY-SA 2.0 fr
Fran Allen sets out a clear foundation for the way compilers can improve programs written in high level languages, so that the resulting code is faster but does the same as the original. She wins a Turing Award.
6. 1970s - Karen Spärk JonesUniversity of Cambridge CC BY 2.5
Karen Spärck Jones invents an algorithm to decide which documents are most relevant. Variations form the core of most search engines. Points out “Computing is too important to leave to men”.
7. 1980s - Barbara LiskovKenneth C. Zirkel CC BY-SA 3.0
Barbara Liskov develops programming languages. Argus is the first to support writing distributed programs. CLU includes ideas that ultimately lead to object-oriented programming. She wins a Turing Award.
8. 1990s - Heddy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr receives the Electronic Frontier Foundation Pioneer Award. During WWII she co-invented frequency hopping: constantly jumping from one frequency to another. Not taken up till the 1960s, this underlies today’s mobile technology.
9. 2000s - Jeannette WingColumbia University
Jeannette Wing promotes the idea of computational thinking as the key problem solving skill set of computer scientists. It is now taught in schools worldwide.
10. 2010s Shafi GoldwasserWeizmann Institute of Science
Shafi Goldwasser wins a Turing Award. She co-invented zero knowledge proofs: a way to show a claim being made is true without giving away any more information. This matters in the digital world to ensure people are honest without giving up privacy.
and men too ...
Of course men occasionally helped too!
The best computer science and innovation arise when the best people of whatever gender, culture, sexuality, ethnicity and background work together.
For lots more great female computer scientists visit www.cs4fn.org/women/