Picture what a stereotypical computer programmer looks like. Is it a man?
Even I have to confess that stereotype exists in my mind. I picture a gentleman with glasses hunched over in front of a several monitors typing away like a mad man.
Though this stereotype is often perpetuated from TV and movies, it is actually women who were the first pioneers of computer programming. Unfortunately, even some of the most well educated historians have missed this fact.
But, today we celebrate a very notable female programmer in history, Grace Hopper.
Math Professor turned Innovater
Grace Hopper was a math professor and member of the Navy Reserve. In 1949 joined up with a team of innovators that were working on the first major commercial computer.
Hopper had a breakthrough that allowed her to program a computer using words instead of numbers.
Notably known as COBOL, the first ever programming language. Grace made programming more important than hardware because this was a language that could be used on any programmable machine.
The Queen of Software
Grace Hopper even appeared on David Letterman at the age of 79 (1986) and was quoted to be the “Queen of Software”. But then why at the same time did the number of women majoring in computer science begin to drop?
Well it may have had something to do with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates appearing in the media for their personal computers. However, they would not have been able to provide the world with such innovative technology if it had not been for Grace Hopper. Her invention of the first ever programming language changed history forever.