Lauren Chilcote, Principal Product Designer, mmhmm

Women in Computing – International Women's Day 2022

Lauren Chilcote Headshot
A still shot of the presenter, Lauren Chilcote, on a neon yellow background next to a text bubble with a white background and the headline, “International Women’s Day: Women in Computing” inside the bubble.

Press play for a history of important women in tech

Tune into this video for a fascinating history of notable women in computing over the last 175 years, presented by mmhmm’s Lauren Chilcote. 

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You’ll learn

  • All about math whiz Ada Lovelace who wrote the world’s first computer program in 1843

  • How software engineering was seen as a woman’s job in the 1940s 

  • Who invented the computer compiler (hint: it was a woman) 

Who is this for?

Network Professionals Business Leaders


Lauren Chilcote Headshot
Lauren Chilcote
Principal Product Designer, mmhmm 


0:01 Hey there, turtles! My name is Lauren Chilcote, and I'm a product designer on the

0:05 mmhmm team. In celebration of Women's History Month and because we all work at a tech

0:09 company, I thought I would spend a little bit of time to go over a little brief history of

0:14 some interesting and notable women in computing. First up is Ada Lovelace.

0:21 She was an English countess and kind of a math whiz who in the 1840s, which is over 175

0:28 years ago, wrote the world's first computer program. And this was an algorithm that was

0:33 to be consumed by a machine called the analytical engine that was developed by her

0:38 mentor, and her algorithm was all about calculating sequences. Her program was

0:46 published in the 1843 edition of Scientific Memoirs.

0:51 But, her full name was not included, which was very common for women of the day of the

0:55 18th and 19th centuries. So it was just published under her initials AAL.

1:02 Jumping ahead about 100 years, so the mid-1940s, World War Two era, and software

1:08 engineering was primarily seen as women's work. It was predominantly a woman's job. Men

1:14 in the industry regarded writing code as sort of a secondary, less interesting task, and

1:19 there wasn't a whole lot of career progression. So it was seen as a better fit

1:23 for women who were likely to drop out of the workforce to have children or take care of

1:27 their families. These women here are the NIAC programmers who wrote the first all-electric

1:34 programable computer for the U.S. Army, but were sadly not credited for their work.

1:40 Next up is Grace Hopper, who was one of the women in the industry at this time.

1:44 The outbreak of the Second World War allowed her to join the U.S. Navy at the age of 37,

1:50 and she was sent to Harvard to work on the development of the first electromechanical

1:54 computer, the Mark-1. She's considered to be one of the first modern programmers, and she

1:59 invented the computer compiler. Every year there's a large conference for women in

2:04 computing in her name, and it's called the Grace Hopper Celebration. I was there in

2:08 2018, and there's Ada too.

2:13 Last but definitely not least, is Annie Easley, one of the first Black women in

2:17 computing. She was a computer scientist, a rocket scientist and a mathematician who

2:22 helped make modern spaceflight possible. She actually worked at NASA before it was even

2:26 called NASA when it was NACA, N-A-C-A.

2:30 And she developed software for the Centaur rocket stage that ultimately led to the 1997

2:36 space probe to Saturn. She also did a lot of work around renewable energy, including

2:41 technologies that led to hybrid vehicles.

2:43 So if you are a Prius owner like myself, you can think Annie Easley.

2:51 Over here. All right, so with this rich history of women in computing, where are we

2:57 at now in terms of representation? Well, this data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for

3:02 the Year Twenty shows that in the U.S., women at best represent about 36% of systems

3:07 analysts and 11% of security analysts.

3:11 On average, it's about 25-27%.

3:15 The employment gender gap is larger for women of color, so in 2020, the computing workforce

3:20 was 3% Black women, 2% Hispanic women and 7% Asian women.

3:27 There is some good news here. We are trending upwards, and this graph shows about a 2%

3:32 increase from the previous year's data. There are some great organizations dedicated to

3:39 helping women pursue and navigate computer science and programming careers. A few of

3:44 them here, Girls Who Code., they are who puts on the Grace Hopper celebration

3:49 every year. And the Society of STEM Women of Color. I'll link to a great article with

3:55 links and data in the description below, and I would love to hear if you know of any

3:59 organizations or initiatives that are helping in this space, please do share. Thank you so

4:05 much! See you later.

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