Wonder Woman hits UK cinemas today so we thought we’d take this chance celebrate some of our heroines from the Science and Tech fields that don’t get as much credit as the brilliant Ada Lovelace or Marie Currie. Although there are hundreds of women we could name, we’ve come up with a list of five who have inspired some of the women in our team. Please feel free to add more to the list in the comments section.
Multiple members of our team suggested “Amazing Grace” Hopper. An early woman in tech, Dr. Hopper was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer. She was the first female to graduate the Ph.D. program at Yale with a focus in mathematics. She sets standards for programming languages, developing the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) and popularizing the term “bug” for a glitch.
Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE
Our Business development director Caitlin was lucky enough to meet Maggie Aderin-Pocock at the Cornwall Business awards a few years ago. “A never-ending ball of energy, Maggie managed to fit the unlimited wonders of space into an inspirational speech for businesses. She even took the time to discuss abstract mathematics with me over a glass of champagne.” Her excitement and passion around math and sciences is infectious and her work inspiring the next generation of scientists is almost as impressive as the ground-breaking work she’s undertaken. With a PHD in mechanical engineering, her work has ranged from hand held instruments to detect land mines, drastic improvements to telescopes that allow us to examine distant stars, and most recently working with teams to create observation instruments that help measure climate change.
Dr Barbara Liskov
Annie is our client development coordinator and loves trailblazing women. She suggested Dr Barbara Liskov, who was one of the first women to be granted a PHD in computer science and is a Turning award winner for her work in the design of programming languages and software methodology that led to the development of object-oriented programming. She is currently at MIT leading The Programming Methodology Group dedicated to research in distributed systems, object oriented databases, programming languages, and software design.
Dr Alice Roberts
One of our Software developers Jane suggested Dr Roberts for her series of historical documentaries about how humans evolved and our origin story. “She’s really sparked my interest in our human history”. Dr Roberts’ book the Incredible Unlikeliness of Being was nominated for a welcome book prize and brings together a huge wealth of knowledge to help us better understand one of the most complex organisms in the universe, ourselves.
Elizabeth who shares her time across Bluefruit and Software Cornwall suggested Margaret Hamilton, who wrote software for the Apollo program and published over 130 papers and was an early leader in the software engineering industry. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 for her work on Apollo missions.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to women doing awesome things in the science, engineering and tech industries. We could have talked about any of the female codebreakers at Bletchley Circle who were critical to saving hundreds of lives in World War II, the “women computers” who were the mathematical brains powering NASA in the 60’s, or the women behind organisations like PowertoFly and GlassBreakers who are working hard to improve the number of women in science and tech jobs.
So while we’ll wait to see if the film lives up to all it promised, we’d like to say thanks to the real life wonder women who have and are continuing to make a difference. After all, as the Amazonian herself said:
“If it means interfering in an ensconced, outdated system, to help just one woman, man or child…I’m willing to accept the consequences.” -Wonder Woman #170
Here are a few other lists and websites we’ve come across that are worth checking out: