The Observatory

by Codeverse

Seven Historical Women who Paved the Way for Modern Technology

March is Women's History Month, so we wanted to take time to celebrate some of the fabulous women who made history with their contributions to the STEM fields. Read on to learn more about these incredible inventors, technologists, and role models!

8 min read


Ada Lovelace(1815-1852)

Ada Lovelace holds a special place in our hearts here at Codeverse. She is considered to be the world's first computer programmer. She was also an accomplished writer and mathematician. Ada Lovelace is famous for her work on Charles Babbage's designs for an early computer, termed an the Analytical Engine. Her notes explained that "codes could be created for the device to handle letters and symbols along with numbers. She also theorized a method for the engine to repeat a series of instructions, a process known as looping that computer programs use today." (Source)


image via GE

Edith Clarke (1883-1959)

After attaining her degree in electrical engineering, Edith Clarke was employed as a “computer,” (a person who performed difficult mathematical calculations before modern-day computers and calculators were invented,) for the company General Electrics. She later left GE to become the first female professor of electrical engineering in the United States. Her legacy continues to inspire many female engineers, inventors, and educators to carve out space for themselves in the traditionally male-dominated STEM fields.

During her lifetime, Edith Clarke published several popular and informative research papers, as well as an electrical engineering college textbook.

alt Alice Ball (1892-1916)

Alice Ball was first woman to graduate with a master's degree from the University of Hawaii. She studied chemistry and went on to become the first female professor of chemistry in the United States.

Additionally, Ball developed a method of injecting Chaulmoogra oil extract into the skin. This method was the most effective treatment for people with leprosy at the time, and remained the preferred treatment method for the disease until the 1940s.


Ruby Hirose(1904-1960)

Ruby Hirose was a Japanese-American biochemist whose scientific research laid groundwork for polio vaccine. Additionally, her research on the medicinal properties of the goldenseal plant was published in the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association.

Hirose fought racial and sexual discrimination to become a notable figure in the field of Science. In 1940 , the American Chemical Society recognized her as "an established chemist and an example of the growing opportunities for women in chemistry." (Source)


Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1992)

Before Grace Murray Hopper's development of computer language written in English, computer programs were written with only numbers. She was a key developer in creating the computer language COBOL, which is still being used today. Each year, Hopper's work is honored and remembered at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference.


Katherine Johnson (1916-present)

During the span of her career, Katherine Johnson has co-authored 26 scientific papers. She is considered to be a revolutionary example for African American women in STEM fields, and was portrayed by actress Taraji P. Henson in 2016's blockbuster film "Hidden Figures."

She began her career by working as a "computer" for NASA. She later became an aerospace technologist, and she calculated the flight trajectory for the 1961 flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in Space.

Katherine Johnson was also awarded the 2015 Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-president Barack Obama.


image via New York Times

Ruth Rogan Benerito (1960-2013)

Ruth Rogan Benerito was a biochemist, mathematician, and inventor who is credited with saving the cotton industry through her development of wash-and-wear cotton.

She also discovered a method of administering nutritional fats intravenously to critically wounded soldiers who were unable to eat, which became the foundation for modern intravenous feeding used in hospitals today. At the time of her death Benerito held a total of 55 patents.

Do you know a girl who would love to get involved in STEM? Sign her up for a coding class (on us!) at our interactive coding studio in Lincoln Park!

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