Influential Women in Technology

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the morning radio program today was asking people to name a woman that has influenced them whom they’ve never met. This question got me thinking. What would you say? Who’s influenced you?

The responses on the program ranged from Lady Gaga to Hillary Clinton to Mother Teresa. My response would be different though, perhaps someone not necessarily in popular media.

Ada Lovelace (aka Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace)

Ada Lovelace

Around 1842, Ada wrote “notes” to translate an Italian article using a machine or “Analytical Engine” designed by the Father of Computers, Charles Babbage. These notes are considered to be the first computer program. Ada died at a young age of 36 but in that time was a visionary for computers that included using them for more than just number crunching.

Interesting though is that her code was never tested as the engine was never built. I’ll note that plenty of my code looks like works that should go down in history until I actually test it. 😉

Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper

As an Admiral in the Navy, Grace invented some of the first compiler based programming languages and influenced the development of COBOL. Grace devised the idea that programming languages should be machine independent, hence the compiler-based languages. She believed that languages should be natural and as close to english as possible instead of assembly or machine based language (THANK YOU!).

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. I think most of us have heard of her Lean In book and movement, encouraging professional women to achieve their career goals. More note-able for me was her Ban Bossy campaign: asking to ban the word bossy because of the harmful effect on girls. I know that more than once as a girl I was called bossy so I could relate!

All of these women have inspired technology and also have inspired me. They were courageous and they didn’t let anything stop them.

So who would you put on your list of women that inspire you?

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