Happy women’s history month!
Help celebrate the achievements of women, and all peoples, by setting aside some class time every day this month to showcase the important contributions that women have made to society. We have compiled some information to help inspire you! Sources for even more inspiring women throughout history are located below.
Don’t forget to check out Girlswhocode.com for more ideas on how to keep children [especially girls] interested in technology and engineering.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)
British Mathematician and world’s first computer programmer.
Daughter of the great poet, Lord Byron, and his wife, Lady Wentworth. Ada showed interest in science and mathematics as a young child, and her mother promoted these interests in education throughout her life. As a teenager, Ada’s mathematical talents lead her to a fellowship with mathematician Charles Babbage, the father of computers, who was working on an “Analytical Machine” at the time. Ada developed an algorithm to run the machine, which is considered the very first computer program. Aside from being the first programmer, Ada was the first to recognize the potential of “computing machines” as doing more than just crunching numbers, which led us down the path to the wonderful technologies we enjoy today.
Kimberly Bryant (Birthday not provided)
American Electrical Engineer and Founder of blackgirlscode.com
In 2011, Bryant founded Black Girls Code, a training course that teaches basic programming concepts to black girls who are underrepresented in technology careers.
Rear Admiral Grace M. Hopper, Ph. D (1906-1982)
American Software Engineer, and Navy Admiral
This highly accomplished woman earned an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Physics from Vassar College in 1928, and completed her Master’s and Ph.D work at Yale in 1930 and 1934, respectively. After 10 years of teaching mathematics at her alma mater, Hopper took leave to join the United States Navy Reserve as America entered WWII, where she worked on the Mark 1 Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator.
Hopper was one of the first people to suggest developing a new programming language using English words, as opposed to the computational code being used at the time. While most rejected this idea as impossible, Hopper preserved and developed a common language that both computers and humans could easily understand. This lead to more people without advanced technology degrees being able to program and use computers. We all have General Hopper to thank for making communicating with computers easier!
American Ophthalmologist, Inventor, and Humanitarian
Dr. Bath is truly a role model for every child with her ever expanding list of accomplishment. She was the first female, African-American doctor to receive a medical patent in 1988! That patent was for the Laserphaco Probe which was a revolutionary method for treating cataracts using lasers. Her device is used across the word to painlessly and quickly remove cataracts and restore the site of millions. Dr. Bath also broke ground as the first woman to: serve the Jules Stein Eye Institute, thead a post-graduate ophthalmology training program, or be named honorary staff of the UCLA Medical Center. She was also the first black American to serve as resident in ophthalmology at New York University, and the first black female surgeon at ULCAMC.
Azza Abdel Hamid Faiad (1997- Present)
Azza developed a groundbreaking proposal to turn plastic waste into biofuel when she was only 19 years old!!!! Azza said that the technology could “provide an economically efficient method for production of hydrocarbon fuel” including 40,000 tons per year of cracked naptha and 138,000 tons of hydrocarbon gasses – the equivalent of $78 million in biofuel. Her innovations would help save our planet, and be a huge boon for our global economies.
Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal (1947- Present)
Chinese-American Virologist and Molecular Virologist
Dr. Wong-Staal was the first scientist to clone HIV, which helped her team later discover that HIV leads to AIDS. In the 1990s, Wong-Staal's research focused on gene therapy, using a ribozyme "molecular knife" to repress HIV in stem cells. The protocol she developed was the second to be funded by the United States government.
Shirley Jackson, Ph.D (1946- Present)
In 1973, Jackson became the first African-American Woman to earn a doctorate degree from MIT, and only the second African-American Woman in the entire US to have a doctorate degree in physics. Dr. Jackson has helped to invent a whole host of developments that revolutionized the way we communicate, from touch-tone dialing to call-waiting. One contribution, however, looms bigger than most: the invention of fiber-optic cables that link the world's communication systems.
Jeannette Pickering Rankin (1880 - 1973)
Rankin became the first woman to hold national office in the United States when she was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916 by the state of Montana as a member of the Republican Party. She won a second House term 24 years later, in 1940. Rankin was a driving force for women’s suffrage and 1 of only 50 who voted against declaring war on Germany in 1917 stating “I wish to stand for my country, but I cannot vote for war.”
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 – 1910)
Dr. Blackwell was a British-born physician, notable as the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States, as well as the first woman on the UK Medical Register. She was the first woman to graduate from medical school, a pioneer in promoting the education of women in medicine in the United States, and a social and moral reformer in both the United States and in the United Kingdom. Her sister Emily was the third woman in the US to get a medical degree.
Valentina Tereshkova (1937 - Present)
Russian Cosmonaut and Politician
Tereshkova was the first woman to fly into outer space. She was chosen from 400 applicants, and was in space for 3 days, circling the globe 48 times. In 2013, she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, she was a carrier of the Olympic flag.
Mae Jemison (1956 - Present)
American Engineer, Physician, and NASA astronaut
She became the first African-American woman to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. She also spent time as a general practice physician, and served 2 years in the Peace Corps. She is also a dancer, an actress, and holds nine honorary degrees in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities. She is currently the principal of the 100 year Starship organization, which works to fund private space exploration projects. She is also immortalized in LEGO!
Margaret Heafield Hamilton (1936 - Present)
American Computer Scientist, systems engineer and business owner
Hamilton played an integral part in NASA putting American astronauts on the moon when she developed all of the on-board flight software. Pictured above is a portion of the code needed to fly the spacecraft, and Hamilton wrote it BY HAND!
Stephanie Kwolek (1923 - 2014)
Kwolek spent 40 years as a chemist for DuPont, and is best known for inventing the first family of synthetic fibers of exceptional strength and stiffness, which include Kevlar; the main component of bullet-proof vests.
For more information on the brilliant minds that have helped shape our world, please see the links below!