The First Computer Programmer Was a Woman

As we talk to more folks interested in opening coding schools, it’s amazing to see the amount of interest in getting more girls interested in tech.  So we thought this article titled “A Brief History of Women in Computing” by Faruk Ates was a fitting blog topic.

Believe it or not, women were the first software engineers.  The first language I used at my first job was Ada, named after Ada Lovelace.  In 1843, she wrote the first algorithm for the Babbage Engine, one of the first computing machines.  Lovelace, in fact, is widely regarded as the first computer programmer – ever.

Many women since have been crucial to the development of computer science.  Hedy Lamarr, originally an actress, helped co-develop a frequency hopping algorithm in World War II, which formed the basis of technologies used today from wifi to cell phone technology (CDMA) and bluetooth.  Jean Bartik and 5 other women were the first team of programmers (or “Computers” as their job was called back then) for ENIAC, one of the first multi-purpose electronic computers.  In 1952, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper created one of the world’s first compilers (a compiler is a program that translated human-readable code into computer-readable language).  And don’t forget the true story of the movie Hidden Figures, of the women who were crucial to the complex computing and math for our space program.

 Pioneers in Computer Science - Lovelace, Bartik, Hopper, and Lamarr
Pioneers in Computer Science – Lovelace, Bartik, Hopper, and Lamarr

Faruk goes on to argue that it isn’t biology that caters to it being a male dominated field but that women were “forced out” and that different cultures are more welcoming to women. For example, in India coding is looked upon as a field for both men and women. While “women in the U.S. made up only 18% of undergrads in Computer Science and Engineering” in India “that number was 42%.”

What do you think? We’d love to hear your opinion on this as it plays out.

Categorized as Coder Blog

By Hansel

Hansel is the Founder & CEO of theCoderSchool and has been at the heart of it ever since its inception in 2013.