The word “computer” was also assigned to the role that it tookover…computers. Literally, people (the vast majority of whom were
women) who sat and computed things by hand. When electronic computers started to take over for people computers,
the women who were the computers started running the computers.Now, as for “actually creating solutions and engineering products”,
lets have a look at what is, without a doubt, the longest-used
programming language of all time, COBOL.
COBOL was written in 1959, and it came directly from FLOW-MATIC,
the very first computer language that used actual english words, rather
than only numerical machine code. It was written for the UNIVAC – one
of the first commercially available computers. And it was written by Admiral Grace Hopper.
Yes, the computer language at the root of every programming language you’ve likely ever used was written by a woman.
If that’s not enough, then you should know that the UNIVAC was
inspired by ENIAC, which was the very first electronic computer. It was
designed in a large part to electronically function like a mechanical
adding machine. Adding machines were possible because Charles Babbage designed the very first mechanical computers. His difference engine was designed so intricately that it couldn’t be constructed for a century, but when it was, it worked perfectly.
One of the many machines Babbage designed took inspiration from the
Jacquard Loom, which used cards with holes punched in them to create
patterns. Babbage used this technique to give his mechanical computer
instructions. He had a friend who was a noted mathematician who
developed the very first computer algorithm, which calculated a series
of Bernoulli numbers. Her name was Ada Lovelace.
So, to sum up…the very first computer programmer was a woman. The
very first real programming language was written by a woman. The first
commercial computers were operated largely by women. And for some
reason, we have been telling little girls that computers are toys for a
boy. Something has gone very off the rails lately, and it needs fixed. Imagine what we could do? Women were at the forefront of the Information Age and they need to be back in it.