At Mobius Professional Services, we are proud of our diversity. Being an Alaska Native Corporation, it seems obvious that we promote an inclusive culture. Today, we appreciate that the technology industry is embracing the women that hold leadership roles, but we also recognize that women in technology are not a novel idea. Here we highlight just a few of the trailblazers that have paved the way for women in technology.
Edith Clarke (1883-1959)
The human computer.
“There is no demand for women engineers, as such, as there are for women doctors; but there’s always a demand for anyone who can do a good piece of work.” Edith Clarke
Edith earned a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics and astronomy from Vassar College and taught science at a girl’s school before reenrolling in college at MIT and becoming the first woman to earn any degree in Electrical Engineering from MIT, let alone a Master’s Degree!
Edith held a job that was largely considered to be human computing before computers were invented. She worked as an engineer for General Electric, on and off, for nearly thirty years and broke many barriers for women throughout her life, ignoring all “normalcy” for women and age:
- In 1921, she received a patent for her “graphical calculator.”
- In 1926, she was the first woman to present a paper to American Institute of Electrical Engineers
- In 1947 (at 64), she became the first female woman to teach engineering at the University of Texas, Austin.
- In 1956 Ms. Clarke retired at 73 years young.
Grace Hopper (1906 – 1992)
She believed that “we’ve always done it that way” was not necessarily a good reason to continue to do so. ³
Grace Hopper received a Bachelor’s Degree from Vassar College and earned her MA and Ph.D. from Yale while teaching at Vassar College. She was one of only ten Ph.D. mathematics students in her graduating class. She joined the Naval reserve as part of the World War II efforts. She was assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance Computation Project at Harvard University, where she worked at Harvard’s Cruft Laboratories on the Mark series of computers, with Howard Aiken, the principal inventor of what is largely considered the first “first large-scale automatic digital computer in the United States.” (6) Grace was only the third person to have the honor of working on this computer and wrote a 500-page manual of operations that was the basis for many computing operations today.
In 1949, Grace Hopper unveiled the first compiler that produced mathematical symbols to represent binary code combinations. This allowed for easier programming and was used in the first commercially available computers in the United States. She continued to optimize coding throughout the rest of her long career and is recognized for her work developing COBOL. Hopper continued to work well into her 80s. “Hopper died on January 1, 1992 and was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.” (6)
The ENIAC Programmers
“None of us girls were ever introduced… we were just prgorammers.” Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli
In 1946, six women were hired by the U.S Army to program the first “all-electronic, programmable computer.” (7) This project, part of the World War II efforts, was exceptional because the women had no manuals or programming language, only logical diagrams. The women succeeded in teaching the computer to run a ballistics trajectory in seconds.The women succeeded in teaching the ENIAC computer to perform mathematical calculations, including a ballistics trajectory, in seconds. The ENIAC computer was heralded in 1946 as a computer revolution, but the women responsible were not named or recognized for their work until the mid-1980s.
The Mother of The Internet
“The kind of diversity that I think really matters isn’t skin shade and body shape, but different ways of thinking.”
Radia Perlman studied at MIT at a time when most students were men. She was so used to being the only woman in a class, that she would only recognize the difference when she saw another woman in the class!
Radia Perlman is most famous for the invention of the Spanning Tree Protocol, without which the Internet could not function. That being said, she never accepted the title of “Mother of the Internet,” believing that the Internet was created as a result of contributions from many different people.
The legacy continues…
The representation of women in technology has come a long way. Women like Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Ginni Rometty are household names thanks to their hard work and dedication to the industry. But without the women that went before them, working tirelessly and often silently, who knows what the state of technology would be today.
At Mobius Professional Services, we are grateful to all those paving the way and we are proud to be continuing this legacy.
If you’re interested in working for Mobius, check out our job listings by clicking here: Job Seekers