Celebrating Women’s History Month


Impactful Contributions – Here’s nine stories for you

March is Women’s History Month. Here’s a look at nine impactful women, past and present, who have changed the course of technology and science.

Ada Lovelace. The very first computer programmer was a woman! Ada Lovelace is considered the founder of scientific computing. Lovelace was an English mathematician who published the first code meant to be carried out by a machine. Sadly, she did not live to see her work used in Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. Still, her previously little-known work and approach to science have broken through to inspire present-day young women interested in computer programming.

Ana Roqué de Duprey. Ana Roqué de Duprey was the first woman in Puerto Rico to write a geography textbook for students, which the Department of Education of Puerto Rico adopted. Roqué had a passion for astronomy and education, founding several girls-only schools and the College of Mayagüez, which later became the Mayagüez Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. Roqué wrote the Botany of the Antilles, the most comprehensive study of flora in the Caribbean at the beginning of the 20th century and was also influential in the fight for Puerto Rican women’s right to vote.

Edith Clarke. Edith Clarke was the first woman electrical engineer. Struggling to find work as a female engineer, she became the first professionally employed female electrical engineer in the United States in 1922. She paved the way for women in STEM and engineering and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2015.

Katherine Johnson was an African American space scientist and mathematician who enormously contributed to America’s aeronautics and space programs by incorporating computing skills. She played a huge role in calculating critical trajectories in the Space Race, calculating the trajectory for Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the moon. In 2015, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Johnson is now retired and continues to encourage students to pursue careers in science and technology.

Maria Klawe, the first female president of Harvey Mudd College, was a prominent computer scientist. She worked hard to ignite passion for the STEM field among diverse groups. Her workhelped support the computer science personnel’s innovation ability during her tenure at Harvey Mudd College. It has raised the percentage of women majoring in computer science from less than 15 percent to more than 40 percent today.

Sally Ride. Sally Ride transformed history by becoming the first American woman to fly into space in 1983. After her second shuttle to space, Ride retired from NASA and pursued her passion for education by inspiring young people. Ride passed away in 2012, but her legacy and work inspire young women nationwide.

Dr. Gladys West. One of the most inspirational black leaders and pioneers of the tech industry. Dr. West is credited with writing the code that made GPS possible. Over the years, she worked to account for the tidal, gravitational and other forces that distort the understanding of Earth’s shape. Without her tireless efforts, GPS as we know it may not exist today!

Megan Smith. Former President Obama named Megan Smith the first female United States Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in the Office of Science and Technology. Before this role, Smith served as CEO of PlanetOut. This leading LGBTQ online community broke many barriers by partnering with several major web players. She was also the former Vice President of Google. After leaving politics, she pushed for more diversity in the tech sector during her years as CTO and helped create the Tech Jobs Tour, a country-wide effort to put more people in tech jobs.

Gayle Nobel. Gayle Nobel is a 77-year-old retired Jewish engineer. Her quirky ways have captured the eyes of many on social media with her heart of gold. In her working years as an engineer, Gayle has over 50 patents registered. She always wanted to be a pilot, but women were not allowed to fly then. She saw Martin Luther King speak in college and was one of the first female chief radio engineers. She designed a computer chip that is still named after her. She now spends her days performing random acts of kindness, being a force for good!

We hope these women and others have inspired you and given you a newfound respect for women in technology and science. And in the words of Michelle Obama, former First Lady of the United States: “Don’t be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered.”