Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quote of the Week (Women in IT)

"The banking crisis was caused by doing what no society ever allows: Permitting young males to behave in an unregulated way. Anyone who studied neurobiology would have predicted disaster."—Sheelan Kolhatkar, "What If Women Ran Wall Street?" (New York magazine/03.29.10)

I am sure you are asking why this quote appeared on my Techie Blog? Yesterday I had coffee with a friend of mine (yes you Alex) and she described her day to me. She asked me if I knew of any WI-MAX carriers in her area. I asked why and she began to explain how a Techie Salesman spoke down to her. Now my friend Alex is a tech-savvy nerd's nerd, that was so sexist on the part of the salesman. Many women in my life are/were in IT. Did you know that I took an interest in IT, not because of my dad or those ECPI commercials of the 70's and 80's, I became interested because my MOM was a COBOL programmer. She loved her job and that old WANG mainframe running MVS! Heck my Dad’s second wife was a mainframe computer operator. Yeah I guess Dad was into geek girls back in the 70's and 80's. So today I dedicate my Blog to COBOL, mom, and Dr. Grace Murray Hoper. My point, sometimes it takes a women to contain the wild guys of wall street and your IT department.

Now on to Dr. Grace Hopper

Inventor Grace Murray Hopper was a curious child. At the age of seven, she dismantled her alarm clock to figure out how it worked, but was unable to reassemble it. By the time her mother figured out what she had been up to, the young Grace Hopper had gone through seven clocks in the house. This intellectual curiosity would later play an integral part in earning Hopper a place among the ranks of the most famous women inventors.

As she grew up, Grace's parents encouraged her to pursue her educational ambitions. At Vassar College, she obtained a B.A. in mathematics and physics. She continued her education at Yale University by completing a masters and Ph.D. in mathematics. She then returned to Vassar to teach.

During World War II, Hopper joined the Navy and was sworn into the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1943. After training, she was commissioned as a lieutenant and assigned to the Bureau of Ordinance Computation Project at Harvard University. She became the third person to program the Harvard Mark I computer. Much like her clocks, disassembling it and figuring out its operating processes was a challenge that she really enjoyed.

Hopper's naval duties ended a year after the war, and she became a senior programmer with Remington Rand (later RAND Corp), where she worked on the first large-scale commercial computer – UNIVAC. She became Director of Automatic Programming in 1952 and subsequently oversaw the company's endeavor to produce specifications for a common business language. From 1959 to 1961, Hopper lead the team that invented COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), the first user-friendly business computer software program.

Later, Hopper invested a great deal of time advocating validation procedures to bring about the international standardization of computer languages. She won numerous awards for her career as a famous woman inventor, including the National Medal of Technology, which was presented to her in 1991 by President George Bush. By the time she passed away on January 1, 1992, Dr. Hopper had received honorary degrees from thirty universities.

Now this is one heck of a techie! Guys think twice before talking down to a techie in a dress. Chances are, she not only understands what you are talking about --she may be able to school you on a few things!

For more information on Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, refer to:
Lemelson-MIT Inventor of the Week: Dr. Grace Murray Hopper
History of Mathematics – Famous Mathematicians

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