MAPCON Maintenance Software Article Series

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Women and Computer Science

Lisa Richards, Educational Outreach Writer

In modern times, computer science is a field known for having a predominantly male workforce. While today's statistics show that only about 20 percent of jobs in the information technology (IT) industry are held by women, that hasn't always been the case. In the history of computer technology, many of the field's pioneers were female. Their contributions ranged from programming to helping to make space exploration a possibility. Understanding the accomplishments and importance of women in the history of computer science can help younger generations of girls see themselves pursuing and excelling in software development and other tech-related careers.

History of Women in Computer Science

  • History of Women in IT: Six Female Pioneers in Computer Science: In this article, readers can learn about the history of women in information technology. The article looks at six women who have made significant contributions to the field.
  • The Forgotten Female Programmers Who Created Modern Tech: This NPR article discusses the importance of women in creating modern tech by taking a look at some of the women who were pioneers in computer programming, a field that has become predominantly male.
  • The Secret History of Women in Coding: Women were major contributors to the IT industry during the early days, particularly in computer programming. This New York Times article discusses Mary Allen Wilkes and other women who played crucial roles in the field, then looks at the drastic change in the gender balance over time.
  • The First 1940s Coders Were Women, So How Did Tech Bros Take Over? Click this link to read about the history of women in computer science and how computer programming was first considered to be work for women. The article tells of six women who helped develop the field and how gender stereotypes were eventually used to bring in more men and push women out.
  • How the Tech Industry Wrote Women Out of History: On this page, readers can discover the large role women played in the computer industry from World War II through the middle of the 1960s.

Celebrated Women in Computer Science

  • Annie Easley, Computer Scientist: By clicking on this link, visitors to the NASA website can read about Annie Easley, who was a rocket scientist and had a 34-year career as a computer scientist.
  • Frances Snyder Holberton: In this biography of Frances Snyder Holberton, the IEEE Computer Society discusses her life and accomplishments, including the fact that she was one of the original programmers of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), which was the first electronic digital computer that was meant for general-purpose use.
  • Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace: Born in 1815, Ada Byron was a mathematician who worked on Charles Babbage's Analytical Machine. On this page, readers will learn about the struggles and successes in her life and how she became known as the first computer programmer.
  • Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, Ph.D.: On this page, people interested in learning about successful women in computer science can read the biography of Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, a nun who was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in computer science.
  • Hedy Lamarr: Actress Hedy Lamarr was widely known as a popular actress during the golden age of MGM, but by clicking on this link, readers can learn about her accomplishments as an inventor who helped create technology later used by the military.

Encouraging Girls to Explore Computer Science

Girls in STEM

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