Women in Computing – International Women's Day 2022
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.
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?
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. AnitaB.org, 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.