Here’s a few women from history that I’d to honor, because in a lot of ways they contributed to myself being where I am today – a woman in technology. I learned about of these women while reading Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo to my 4-year-old daughter and 15-month old son. If you haven’t heard of the book, go get it and learn something. It’s a good read regardless of your age.
Margret Hamilton, Computer Scientist
Born August 17, 1936
What did she do? “Margaret was an engineer and led the team who programmed the code that allowed the Apollo 11 spacecraft to land safely on the Moon’s surface. Margaret would bring her four-year-old daughter Lauren to work on the weekends and evenings. While the four-year-old Lauren slept, her mother programmed away, creating sequences of code to be added to the Apollo’s command module computer.
On July 20, 1969, just minutes before Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface, the computer started spitting out error messages. The entire mission was in danger. Luckily, Margaret had set up the computer to focus on the main task and ignore everything else. So instead of aborting the mission, Apollo 11 landed safely on the moon.” (Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, pg. 108)
“I worked on all the Apollo manned missions.” – Margaret Hamilton
Grace Hopper, Computer Scientist
December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992
What did she do? “Grace kept tinkering with anything she found interesting. Eventually she became a professor of math and physics. During the Second World War, she joined the Navy, like her grandfather who was an admiral.
She was assigned to work on a special project. “Come and meet Mark,” they said. She went into the room but instead of a person, she was introduced to the first computer! Called “Mark I,” it filled the entire room and – since it was the first – no one knew exactly how to use it. So Grace started studying it. It took a lot of hard work, but thanks to the program Grace wrote for the Mark I and successors, U.S. Forces were able to decode secret messages sent by their enemies during the war.” (Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, pg. 60)
“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it.” – Grace Hopper
So on behalf of myself and those smart, rebellious women who came before me and those who will come after, thank you. Thank you for not letting anything stop you or slow you down. We are all better for it.