10 women who changed the history of technology

women who changed the history of technology

From Ada Lovelace, the first female programmer in history, to the women who have played a crucial role in the development of mobile telephony, today we will talk about the 10 women who changed the history of technology.

According to a UNESCO report, only 28% of researchers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are women. These differences are reflected in the labor market. In 2021, for example, only 19.4% of the total number of ICT specialists in Spain were women, according to the most recent report by the National Observatory of Telecommunications and the Information Society (ONTSI).

However, despite the significant gender gap that still exists in these fields of knowledge, there are many women who have left an indelible mark in each of them.

Join us to discover how they have made possible the world we know today, and the next time you top up your phone with doctorSIM or unlock your phone with us, don’t forget to thank them 😉. We do so every day.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852): history’s first programmer

women who changed the history of technology
Photo: Innovadoras

Computers as we know them today did not exist back then, and it was not at all common for women to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics, but there was Ada Lovelace. Known as the first person to write an algorithm intended to be processed by a machine, her work laid the foundations for the development of modern computing. Interestingly, she did this by translating a man’s article into English and adding notes in the margin. 

Grace Hopper (1906-1992): pioneer in the field of computer science

women who changed the history of technology
Photo: Computer History Museum

Have you ever said the phrase “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission“? Well, it was Hopper who, in 1947, recorded the world’s first real computer bug, and coined this phrase. She also developed the first computer compiler in the 1950s. This allowed programmers to write code in human language rather than machine language, which greatly facilitated the software development procedures as we know them today.

Margaret Hamilton (1936): the programmer who landed humans on the moon

women who changed the history of technology
Photo: MIT

Hamilton is known for her work on the software for the Apollo program, which took humans to the Moon. She was the developer of the software that allowed astronauts to land on the Moon and return safely to Earth.

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000): without her we would not have cell phones, Wi-Fi or GPS.

women who changed the history of technology
Photo: Digital Trends 

Some still think of her only as the beautiful Austrian actress. In fact, initially few people took her seriously, and her patent to develop a radio-based torpedo guidance system immune to interference expired without being used. But it was Hedy Lamarr who invented the spread spectrum modulation technique that currently allows us to use mobile phones, Wi-Fi and GPS.

Katherine Johnson (1918-2020): one of the brilliant minds behind Mercury and Apollo

Photo: Getty Images

American mathematician and physicist who worked for NASA during the space race in the 1960s. Johnson was one of the brilliant minds behind the Mercury and Apollo projects, and calculated the flight paths that allowed astronauts to reach space and return to Earth safely. Johnson ran the numbers programmed into NASA’s computer by hand for the flight of the first American in orbit, John Glenn. “If she (Katherine) says they’re good, then I’m ready to go,” the astronaut is remembered as saying.

Radia Perlman (1951): “mother of the Internet”.

Photo: Mujeres con Ciencia

Her invention of the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), has made today’s Internet possible. Her work has been key in defining the way networks self-organize and move data. In short, it was she who established the basic rules of Internet traffic.

Susan Kare (1954): creator of Apple’s apple

Photo: Experimenta

The apple, the recycle bin and the document folder, Kare is an American graphic designer known for her work on Apple’s early operating systems and the creation of its icons. Kare also designed the fonts used today in all Apple products.

Meg Whitman (1956): CEO of CEOs

Photo: HP

Meg Whitman is an American business executive whohad an impressive career in the world of technology. Whitman was CEO of eBay for 10 years, and later became CEO of Hewlett-Packard, where she led the personal computer and mobile devices division.

Karen Spark-Jones (1935-2007): thanks for the search engines!

Photo: Computer Laboratory/University of Cambridge

The next time you Google which cell phone to buy or what’s the best place to top up your phone balance (obviously on doctorSIM!), thank Spark-Jones. At a time when there were very few female programmers, she was entirely self-taught. Her work contributed to reverse document frequency and index term weighting, two great concepts that helped create the modern search engines we have today.

Elizabeth Feinler (1931): creator of the original search engine

Photo: Wired

Between 1972 and 1989, she directed the Network Information Center, which would be something like a “prehistoric Google”. This center was the first place to publish resources and directories for the Internet, developing the original “white pages” and “yellow pages” directories, as well as the domain name scheme of .com, .edu, .gov, .net and many more that we use today.

So now you already know the women who changed the history of technology!

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