Women Who Have Helped Shape the IT Industry

As a historically male-dominated industry, women are still fighting for more representation throughout the IT industry, especially in leadership roles. While the percentage of women in IT is on the rise, ranging from 27%-47% at major tech companies like Netflix, Microsoft, and Uber, the numbers drop significantly when looking just at leadership positions. Furthermore, among Fortune 500 companies, only 24 have female CEOs and even fewer of those are IT companies.

There may be a long way to go until there’s equal representation of women across the IT industry, but it is also important to celebrate those who have helped get the industry to this point. Here are just a few of the women who have shaped the industry and whose stories may just inspire you to get your IT career started with Carolina Career College:

Ada Lovelace

More formally known as the Countess of Lovelace, Ada Lovelace is credited with writing instructions for the first computer program. Born in 1815, long before the concept the internet or programming as we know it today was introduced, Lovelace was studying under Charles Babbage, known as the father of the computer at the University of London.

At the time, her work was not known or respected and remained so until the 1950s, when an article she had translated and notated was reintroduced. Later, the U.S. Department of Defense named a computer language after Lovelace.

Dr. Sister Mary Kenneth Keller

Dr. Keller was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and later developed the Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code (BASIC) Programming Language. BASIC allowed anyone who could learn the language to code, an ability previously reserved for those with advanced degrees in science and math.

Dr. Keller also made strides in creating more opportunity for Computer Science programs by working with Dartmouth College to develop a National Science Foundation workshop. Additionally, she pushed for more women to have access to a computer science education throughout her life and even created a Computer Science Department at Clarke College, one of the few women’s colleges at the time.

Dr. Grace Murray Hopper

Not only was Rear Admiral Hopper one of the first female computer scientists, but she was also the oldest serving officer in the U.S. armed forces and the first woman to become a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society. Throughout her career, she worked on numerous technologies such as the first electronic computer (ENIAC), the first commercial electronic computer (UNIVAC I & II), and the first code compiler (A-0). Hopper is also known for the innovative concept of writing code with words instead of symbols which led her to develop the first English-language compiler known as the Flow-Matic.

In addition to graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar and getting her Ph.D. from Yale, all of her innovations and hard work earned her dozens of honorary degrees and a Presidential Medal of Freedom, among other honors.

Margaret Hamilton

Known for coining the term “software engineering” and for her work on the code for the Apollo mission, Margaret Hamilton is another pioneer of IT. Before Hamilton came along, computer scientists learned on the job since there weren’t established schools for coding and software. In fact, Hamilton learned to write code for weather predicting software when she took a job at MIT while her husband attended Harvard Law School. After completing the U.S. Space Program, she was the first programmer hired for the Apollo project at MIT.

Hamilton’s innovations across the industry earned her the NASA Exceptional Space Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Dr. Kate Bouman

Dr. Kate Bouman is one of the more recent women to go viral for her work in IT, specifically creating the first image of a black hole using an algorithm she’d spent three years building at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the young age of thirty, Dr. Bouman has earned a B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, an S.M. degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT, and her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.

After bringing the world the first images of a black hole, she has started teaching at Caltech in the Computing and Mathematical Sciences department.

All of these women achieved things that no one thought was possible, some of them with little access to higher education or a support system. At Carolina Career College, we know that women are capable of achieving the impossible and we are here to support you as learn the skills you will need to potentially make the next IT breakthrough.

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