Great female engineers

Are you the victim of sexual stereotyping?Helen Kicking

Varieties stimulate thinkings from more angles, and different thinkings trigger creativities. Historically male is dominant in the engineer field due to many reasons. But sometimes people misread such trend as “female is not a good fit in certain fields”. I would like to argue the opposite by discussing some examples.

Admiral Grace Hopper, the “Amazing Grace” earned her degree in mathematics and started her faculty life in 1930s. During the WWII she expressed the extreme courage by voluntarily joining Navy. She debug as one of the first full-time developers on Harvard Mark computers, a military development later used in the Manhattan project. In her career, she created the first modern compiler A-0 on UNIVAC, created the foundation of the calculation specialized, data orientated higher language COBOL, implemented numerous app standard tests later adopted by NIST. She retired three times from Navy but always called back to deal with problems that nobody else can solve. Cray XE6 supercomputer at NERSC was recently named after her, ironically, in 70s she foresaw and persuaded the military to use clustered small computers on network instead of using mainframe centralized supercomputers. What a cloud platform prophet!

Margaret Hamilton, the outstanding computer scientist, also earned her degree in mathematics, published over 130 papers and successfully participated in numerous projects. In 1960s She was one of the few developers for the RADAR computer XD-1. She was so advanced in the art of the software development with extraordinary concepts of system design/development, process modeling and code reusabilities. She was joked and mocked when first using the term of “software engineering” to describe such sophisticated process of art. As the lead software engineer in NASA, her navigation apps was strong enough to sustained, recovered and eventually saved the moon landing of Apollo 11. Triggered alarm 1201/1202, this critical app didn’t brake even in the unhappy path due to extra loading by error inputs. Yes, it’s the fact, an exceptional woman saved a manned lunar program.

There are many more great female engineers such as the first programmer Ada Lovelace and the leader Beatrice Hicks. But I’d like to switch to my real experience in my daily life. my mom taught me elementary arithmetic on the blackboard, and both of my excellent math teachers in primary and middle school were chosen to lead the special math teaching class. (For the record, teaching naughty kids logic concept is not any easier than lunar project by the way). Today I am still benefit by the foundation learned from them. In Dev Bootcamp Masha showed me the wonder of ORM and Jen taught me the beauty of the Rails. I wouldn’t survive interview white board without Amelia’s teaching of algorithm. Many of my female cohort mates are marvelous too: Cari showed me the variables reference in Ruby, and Yumiko showed me the magic in JavaScript. Too many female achievements to count here really.

Seriously, are you still think engineer positions are only for male?

Published: July 31 2015

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