News 8 March 2019

A history of women in tech

This International Women's Day we're sharing some of the most inspiring female role models in tech history. 

Anna Lawton, Marketing Coordinator, Fabric

Ada Lovelace – The first computer programmer

Lovelace worked on translating complex formulae into code punched into paper designed to feed into Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. She published her work in 1843 which was a century before the modern computer age.

Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)


Grace Murray Hopper – A pioneer of computer programming

Hopper (AKA Amazing Grace or Grandma COBOL) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. She helped popularise the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

“Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, ‘We’ve always done it this way.’ I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”
Grace Murray Hopper
Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992)


Sister Mary Kenneth Keller – First woman in the US to be awarded a PhD in computer science

Keller worked on the BASIC programming language. This is a high-level coding language designed for ease of use. Sister Mary began working at the National Science Foundation in 1958, a male-only institution at the time.

“We’re having an information explosion, among others, and it’s certainly obvious that information is of no use unless it’s available.”
Sister Mary Kenneth Keller
Sister Mary Kenneth Keller (1913-1985)


Radia Perlman – The Mother of the Internet?

An American computer programmer and network engineer, Perlman wrote the algorithm behind the spanning-tree protocol (STP), an innovation that made today’s internet possible. It took her less than a week to come up with STP and write the algorithm.

Radia disapproves of the title which is commonly given to her “The Mother of the Internet” claiming “the Internet’s success isn’t due to the specific technologies, but rather the surprising ways in which it has come to be used. For instance, Internet search. It’s astonishing that Internet search is possible at all, but it works amazingly well, and is probably one of the most important reasons that the Internet is ubiquitous.

Start out with finding the right problem to solve. This is a combination of “what customers are asking for”, “what customers don’t even know they want yet” and “what can be solved with something simple to understand and manage”
radia perlman
Radia Perlman (1951-)


My thoughts

This is just a small selection of the most inspirational women in tech history but there are so many others who I appreciate on a daily basis for challenging the norm and doing what they enjoy.

I look forward to a future where we don’t have to celebrate International Women’s Day and we won’t need to talk about ‘Women in tech’. But for now, I’m just doing my part to share the message that women can go into ANY industry they want and tech is pretty cool!


Anna Lawton, Marketing Coordinator, Fabric

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