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Women's History Month: Computer Science Pioneers

Ada Lovelace — Created the first algorithm intended to be carried out by her and Charles Babbage’s proposed analytical engine.
Rózsa Péter — Pioneered recursion theory. Published and notable for several key works, including literally writing the book on Recursive Functions in Computer Theory.
Barbara Liskov — Liskov substitution principle; Turing award winner; wrote two programming languages; software methodology and language design led to object-oriented programming.
Katherine Johnson — Known for accuracy in computerized celestial navigation, she conducted technical work at NASA that spanned decades. Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom. When NASA adopted the first electronic computers, colleagues refused to fly without her verification of the accuracy of the computers first. Her ability and reputation for accuracy helped to establish confidence in the new technology.
Grace Hopper — Invented one of the first compiler related tools, and popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages. Her ideas and work on her compiler inspired COBOL.
Grete Hermann — Her doctoral thesis, The Question of Finitely Many Steps in Polynomial Ideal Theory, is the foundation of computer algebra. Her algorithm for primary decomposition is still in contemporary use.
Lynn Conway — Invented generalized dynamic instruction handling, a key advance used in out-of-order execution, used by modern computer processors to improve performance.
Adele Goldberg — Pioneer in GUIs; Developed smalltalk-80 and introduced a programming environment of overlapping windows on graphic display screens.
Frances Allen — Pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers; Thesis Program Optimization laid the conceptual basis for systematic analysis and transformation of computer programs; Papers Control Flow Analysis and A Basis for Program Optimization established intervals in data flow analysis and optimization; Turing Award Winner & IBM Fellow.
Selina Tobaccowala — Cofounded evite as the VP of engineering, revolutionizing and paving the way for online invitation management. Led engineering teams for the product creation of TicketMaster and SurveyMonkey.
Deborah Estrin — Pioneered the development of mobile and wireless systems to collect and analyze real time data about the physical world and the people who occupy it. Associate Dean of Cornell Tech.
Lixia Zhang — Designed Resource Reservation Protocol, pioneered the development of named data networking, and coined the term “middlebox”. (A firewall is a middlebox) IEEE Internet Award winner and IEEE fellow. Fellow of Association for Computing Machinery.
Helen Greiner — Co-founder of iRobot, designed first Roomba. CTO of CyPhy Works.
Cynthia Breazeal — Pioneer of social robotics and human–robot interaction. Designed robot that was used to investigate social cognition and Theory of Mind abilities on robots with application to human-robot collaboration.
Divya Manian — Pioneer and advocate of open web standards. Co-creator of the HTML5 Boilerplate framework, member of the W3C, published tech writer in TIME magazine.
Mave Houston — Founder and head of CapitalOne’s USERlabs. Pioneer in fail fast and often innovation. Learned to code at 8 years old.
Sophie Wilson — Director at Broadcom, Inc. Was named one of The 15 Most Important Women in Tech History. Designed the Acorn Micro-Computer. Designed the instruction set of the ARM processor, still used in smart phones today.
Michelle Simmons - Founded the first quantum computing company. She is literally leading the race to build the first quantum computer.
Coraline Ada Ehmke - Drafted the Contributor Covenant, now used by tens of thousands of software projects, including Linux.

Originally posted on Medium:

Top comments (4)

mrbandit profile image

If I had a daughter, I wanted her middle names to be Ada Grace. My son's middle name is Pascal, after the mathematician.

This is a great article. Their work affects my daily life directly as an embedded systems engineer. Their work is taught in computer science classes worldwide.

stappeer13 profile image
Emma • Edited

LOVE this. Although I am in tech recruiting I often like to consider myself a woman in tech, and moreover as an advocate of women in tech. I try to recruit fairly, equitably and inclusively. Shared this with my team and hope it is ok I share to my Linkedin network. Appreciate you!

thorstenhirsch profile image
Thorsten Hirsch

Oh... I just found out that I've never seen Liskov's first name before and assumed that Liskov was male. My bad. Thank you for this article, Cher!

stacktracy profile image
👩‍💻Tracy A King

Thank you for writing this