Educational series presenting female role models from the STEM fields
*STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics

women in stem

Einstein Newton Tesla Gates Banach Jobs Hawking One could endlessly keep listing like this. But how many of these famous, prominent scientists and inventors were, or are, women? This is exactly what is missing in Polish education. The education about female role models and authority figures in the world of technology and science. After all, it's not like these women don't exist. There are many of them, and that is what we want to highlight in our educational cycle titled "WOMEN IN STEM".

You can follow the posts in a form of a guide on our Instagram and other media.

women inspirations

EDITH CLARKE

"I've always wanted to be an engineer, but I didn't think women should do things like engineering." ~ Edith Clarke. Despite these words, several years later, Edith Clarke became the first woman in the world to obtain a master's degree in electrical engineering. And not just any university, because she graduated from MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). 

Edith Clarke was orphaned by her parents when she was only 12 years old, and her sister took over her upbringing. At the age of 18, she used her parents' inheritance to graduate from Vassar College. Shortly after graduation, she began working as manager of the all-female "human computing" team at AT&T. Wanting to do what "women shouldn't do", she enrolled at MIT and graduated with great grades. Unfortunately, no one in the US wanted to hire a female engineer. So she took a job at General Electrics as a computer supervisor. While at GE, Edith invented what is known as "The Clarke Calculator". This graphical device was able to solve hyperbolic equations 10 times faster than previously used methods. 

However, Edith was dissatisfied with the lack of opportunities to work as an engineer and the low wages compared to her colleagues. She decided to leave the US and teach physics in Istanbul. After a few years, however, she returned to the USA, where she was again employed by General Electric, but this time in the coveted position of an electrical engineer. 

Have you heard of Edith Clarke before? Or maybe you have your own female inspiration that you would like to introduce to the world? 

See more women inspired in our series on instagram and facebook.

ADA LOVELACE

Lady Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852), born in London. 

From an early age she showed a gift and passion for mathematics and poetry. Ada is considered the world's first computer programmer. She became famous for her notes, which included the first published algorithm written with the intention of being executed on a machine called an analytics engine. In the publication, she describes an algorithm for calculating Bernoulli numbers. The machine on which the algorithm was written is considered to be the first universal computer. It was invented by her friend, mathematician and inventor Charles Babbage. The device was never built, so the algorithm has not been tested either. 

Lovelace's algorithm was soon recognized as the world's first computer program. In her honor, on December 10, 1980, the US Department of Defense approved the description of a new programming language called Ada. Did you know the character of Ada before?

GRACE HOPPER

Grace Hopper was born in 1906 in the United States. She studied at Yale, where she earned first a master's degree and then a PhD in mathematics. In this way, she became the first woman with a PhD in mathematics from this university. 

Hopper and his team created the first computer compiler in history, which became the precursor to the COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) programming language. Together with Richard Milton Bloch and Robert Campbell, she created the Mark 1 mechatronic calculator. Theses calculator is the progenitor of today's computers and was used during World War II. Grace is the author of a more than 500-page manual detailing the basic principles of how computer machines work. 

She was also the first to introduce the term "bug" for bugs in the code. There is a funny anecdote related to this. Allegedly one day while working on the Mark II computer hardware, a moth flew in and caused a short circuit. Grace has since popularized the term "bug" to refer to a bug in a computer program. 

Did you know the origin of this popular IT term before? More curiosities and women inspirations on our social media!

MARGARET HAMILTON

Margaret Hamilton is an American programmer, systems engineer, and founder of two technology companies. She contributed greatly to the success of NASA's Apollo missions. She was born in Paola, Indiana in 1936. In 1960, she took a temporary position at MIT to develop weather prediction software for computers. She later worked on the SAGE project at Lincoln Lab. She was a programmer there. The team was to write software to detect enemy air forces. SAGE was used for military purposes during the Cold War. 

Her work on the SAGE project was widely appreciated, and Hamilton soon became director of software engineering at MIT. Her team created the on-board flight software to enable the Apollo missions. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Margaret the Medal of Freedom for her work that led to the success of NASA's mission to the moon. 

The photo shows Margaret standing next to the printed code of the navigation program she and her MIT team wrote for the Apollo project. The names of the Apollo 11 crew are known to everyone, now Margaret Hamilton should also be remembered. Did you already know her character? 

CAROL SHAW

Carol Shaw (born in 1955) is one of the first women to program and design video games. She earned a master's degree in computer science from Berkeley and quickly started working at Atari. 

Her most famous work is River Raid. River Raid is a computer game in the shoot 'em up genre, released in 1982 by Activision for the Atari 2600 console. The game consists in observing the action of the game from a bird's eye view and controlling a fighter flying over the river and scoring points for shooting down enemy machines. During her time at Atari, Carol designed many games, including 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe (1978) and Video Checkers (1980), both released for the Atari 2600. However, neither game was as successful as River raid. 

In 2017, Carol Shaw received the "Icon Award" at "The Game Awards". In the same year, she donated her memorabilia related to games and their development to the museum, including games, boxes, source code and designs. They are available to view at the Strong National Museum of Play in New York City.