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Honoring the Brilliant Women Coders of the World | International Women’s Day – March 8

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Honoring the Brilliant Women Coders of the World | International Women’s Day – March 8
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Happy international Women’s day!

Coding is always displayed as a symbol of masculinity. Although it doesn’t require much physical efforts, somehow it has glided toward the side of men. It is true that Charles Babbage, the father of computer and Alan Turing (the father of computer science), the man who fought a coding war against the Germans during the World War II are men. You have Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark, and Sundar Pichai to add to the long list of male coders.

But Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of the world’s most successful video streaming platform, YouTube, is a woman. Since 2014, Susan is functioning effectively as the CEO of YouTube and she is undoubtedly a digital warrior of the 21st century.

Throughout history, many women coders have helped our world become a better place. At times of crisis, space programs, world wars, and during many crucial encounters of the world, women programmers have excelled in their advanced mathematical pursuit – coding.

Coders and Hackers in Movies

When was the last time you saw a women hacker actively dusting off the keyboard when a super villain is devising a catastrophic plan? Be it in any movie, coding and hacking are always a men-dominated sport. Thanks to James Bond movies where their “Q“ is always a man. 6 Q’s have appeared so far and all six are men. Although hacking scenes are utterly overrated in movies, their lies a stereotype behind these commercial movies too.

It’s time, we honor at least a bunch of women who were brilliant in their coding game, throughout history!

#1 Mitchel Baker – The Co-founder of Mozilla

The present chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation had started her open source journey in 1998. Her first recognized project was Netscape’s Opensource License and this commitment during her Lawyer years became the reason for her joining Mozilla’s project. She was Mozilla’s “Chief Lizard Wrangler”. The successful web browser “Firefox” is a beautiful outcome of Mozilla. Mitchel Baker is an asset to the Internet Society’s Internet Hall of Fame. In 2005, She was one amongst the 100 most influential people of on the planet list published by Time Magazine.

#2 Grace Hopper – Amazing Grace

Yes! Amazing Grace is the nickname of Grace Hopper who went several nautical miles into the world of programming. Until her death in 1992, Grace was into computer science and naval service. She served for more than 4 decades in the naval service and was one of the oldest commissioned navy officer. Grace Hopper as a Navy WAVES lieutenant played an important part in the team that designed Mark-1 one of the earliest computers in the world and also UNIVAC, the world’s first commercial computer. World’s first business programming language, COBOL was developed by Grace Hopper while she also coined the term “debugging“. Another famous programmer Anita Borg’s annual event for women coders is named after Grace Hopper.

#3 Jean E. Sammet – The Founder of FORMAC

As a Mathematician and Computer Science enthusiast, Jean E. Sammet wrote the computer program for symbolic manipulation of computer formulae. It was called FORMAC. She was working for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and it was during that time, Jean’s interested toward computers got her enrolled to a PhD program in Mathematics. She later went on to work for Sperry Gyroscope where used to analyze torpedo trajectories in submarines. And, that’s when she heard of the term “programmer“ from his boss who asked her to become one. During this time, she became an important member of the CODASYL Cobol committee. After 4 years of working in IBM, she became the programming language technology manager of IBM. She led a team of programmers who were developing the Ada Programming Language.

#4 Susan Kare – The Sculptor of Apple’s UI

Before getting hired by Apple, Susan was a sculptor and no one knew she would set the design standard for Apple for generations to come. Today’s Apple UI is a cumulative product of Susan Kare’s graphic design skills. AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) states that Susan was instrumental in creating some of the widely used typefaces, icons, and noteworthy graphic elements in computing like the system-failure bomb, the command symbol (⌘), the paintbrush, and this – ‘Clarus the Dogcow’. Now, her company Susan Kare Design is designing some of the ineffable logos and icons for tech giants of the world.

#5 Ada Lovelace – The Pioneer of Programming

Considered to be the first computer programmer, Ada was a Victorian era mathematician. Her father was Lord Byron, a romantic British Poet and her mentor was Sir Charles Babbage, the father of computers. She wrote a program to find Bernoulli numbers and Babbage rightly recognized her efforts. Lovelace could foresee into the world of computing as she though computers could be used to compose music and art. We are living in that age today. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Women are honored on Ada Lovelace Day, which is observed second Tuesday of October every year.

#6 Karen Spärck Jones – Developer of Search Engine

Modern Search engines should thank Karen Spärck Jones for her forage into the world of search long back. Karen implemented ways to work with ordinary languages instead of trying to code in the machine language. She was doing the reverse process of educating the machines to understand humans instead of trying to learn the language of computers. Here 1972 research paper “Journal of Documentation” was influential in finding repeated key phrases in a given document. A crucial research work that supports the modern search engines we use today.

#7 Margaret Hamilton – Miss Mission Possible

As a self taught programmer, Margaret was the director of software programming for Apollo Guide Computer Project (AGC). She was the one of the important female coders to have written a code for the world’s first portable computer. For the Apollo 11 mission, it was developed at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. She heavily contributed to USA’s moon landing project and helped America envision a new industry. Initially, she didn’t understand the whole of programming but necessities got the better of her and made her one of the best women coders of all time.

#8 Joan Clarke – The Code Breaker

After graduating from a double mathematical BA degree from Cambridge’s Newnham College in 1939, Joan Clarke couldn’t continue her advanced mathematical pursuit as women of that era had limitations when it comes to full academics. Under Gordon Welchman’s recruitment, Joan Clarke joined the government in an attempt to solve the Nazi’s problem through her computing knowledge. She got into Government Code and Cypher School, Bletchley Park. Soon, her clerical days were over there as she joined Alan Turing’s (the mastermind behind breaking the Nazi’s Code of Communication, “Enigma”) team to stop the encrypted communication between Germans during World War II.

#9 Hedy Lamarr – Beauty with Brains

She is a Hollywood actress but how does she finds a place in this list? Her passion toward inventions and science make Hedy Lamarr storm into this tech list. In fact, the communication system she developed during her time is the basis of WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS we use today. The radio guidance system she found strongly helped the allies win the war against Hitler. She has the patents for the technology she built but everything about Hedy went unsung after World War II. The world should remain forever grateful for this Hollywood Star’s iconic invention – WiFi.

#10 Radia Perlman – The Mother of the Internet

Radia was an exceptional software designer and network engineer. She developed a program for preschoolers called TORTIS (Toddlers Own Recursive Turtle Interpreter System) and LOGO, a the first programming language designed for children. She solved the data sharing problem between computers through her Spanning Tree Algorithm. This avoided data getting trapped in a loop while her fundamental idea behind her algorithm is still doing rounds in the world of networking and internet. Perlman’s algorithm was simple yet effective in solving a technological headache.

#11 Elizabeth Feinler – The Mother of All GoDaddys

The internet URL system we use today is the work of Elizabeth Feinler and she was there before all the private domain hosting services we use today. Before, there was only InterNIC and Elizabeth maintained it like a pro for nearly two decades. She along with her team at Menlo Park created the top-level domains we use today – .com, .edu, and .org and it is incredible. She is one of the greatest contributors to the Computer History Museum and have also compiled a timeline for the development of the email. She is a true asset to the world of internet and computer’s historical documentation.

#12 The ENIAC Women Coders – Hidden Tech Treasures

Jean Jennings Bartik, Kathleen McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Snyder Holberton, Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum, and Frances Bilas Spence were the six female coders employed by the army of the USA to code and run the ENIAC ( Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) during World War II. At that time, these women coders didn’t learn any language, coding, or programming because there wasn’t a single course at that time. They used logical diagrams and began detecting the trajectories of missiles in a short span of time. ENIAC was a grand success but these 6 women were never publicly credited for their work. Afterward, ENIAC Programmers Project researched about these 6 wonder women and unveiled their determined actions at the time of crisis.

You become great by the things you do! Doing is winning and that has always been the winning model of neoCoder’s Hands-on learning methodology. Become not just a coder but a neoCoder to help the world evolve into an even better place.

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