If you know something about the history of computers you might know that the very first “computer” was called the ENIAC. It used vacuum tubes and was designed by John Presper Eckart and John Mauchly and it was used by the United States military to accurately calculate missile trajectories. The very first computer program ever written was written for the ENIAC by six Navy specialists, human computers, who had been doing by hand the underlying calculations that ruled missile guidance during the war. These math whizzes were hand picked for the program for their abilities in mathematics and calculations. This program, the very first computer program ever, was unveiled in 1946.
The names of the naval specialists are recorded on the following website as well as on the website for the IEEE so you can check my documentation here. http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/csep590/06au/readings/00511940-frist.pdf
The writers of the very first computer program ever are as follows.
Kay McNulty, Frances Bilas, Betty Jean Jennings, Elizabeth Snyder, Ruth Lichterman, and Marlyn Wescoff.
Are you surprised? Its OK. I was surprised too. But according to the article above, “Women were regarded as capable of doing the work more rapidly and accurately than men”
I guess somebody forgot to tell Larry Summers.
It was mathematicians in Bletchley England who cracked the code of most of the Enigma machines used by the Axis powers during World War II. The staff was 80% women. You know that Charles Lindbergh was the first person to cross the Atlantic in a plane alone, but he went from America to Europe with the prevailing wind. The first pilot to go the other way, which was much harder, was a big game hunter from Africa, raised by a single father, who led Americans on hunting safaris and who wanted to do something important and achieve something never done before.
Her name was Beryl Markham.
I realize that most girls do not have mothers who went to the extent that mine (a chemical engineer back in the day before they were called chemical engineers) did to encourage their daughters to pursue math. But the truth is that math is great. Math teaches persistence. Math teaches patience. Its also really useful in figuring out if the bank calculated your mortgage payment correctly (you would be surprised).
So please, people with daughters, next year send them to computer camp. They do not know what they want yet (come on, Chicago, anyone who thinks she wants to marry Justin Bieber does NOT know what she wants) and the world needs their minds and their wonderful contributions.
And lest you think on some level that the men will find her unattractive, I can assure you that most little boys have one singular favorite princess and she was the one who never waited for a rescue, had tons of opinions, reprogrammed robots and was a brilliant military strategist.
Real boys want nothing to do with Cinderella.
They all want to marry Princess Leia.
Let’s give them what they want.