Monday, May 4, 2015

Women in Tech: Not So New

12:08 PM

Technology is a booming aspect of our lives, from smart phones to even our refrigerators. Despite the increase of jobs in this field by more than double a year, the demographic hasn't changed much.

In fact it's decreased.

Today, when we go into class or into the work place we see nearly 10 women to 70 men. Despite this gender gap in the work place and in the classroom, women have managed to do extraordinary things and overcome all odds.

Originally when computers were born everything had to be done manually, at least the programming. A person would move punch cards to different slots in the machine in order to create a computer program, and surprisingly enough, more than 60% of the people who had these jobs were women.

When the personal computer came out, men started to fleet into the field in great numbers, and the percentage of women in the field fell pretty much all the way down to 10% or 15%. Now, if a woman wanted to pursue a career in technology they were outnumbered 10 to 1, which wasn't too convincing for women.

Among the few extraordinary women who decided to brave the battlefield, was Grace Hopper. Hopper wasn't afraid to get dirty along with the boys, in fact she was a rear admiral in the United States Navy before doing much computing. She was one of the first people who used the Harvard Mark I computer, which was an electric computer from the WWII Era. Though she is not known for that.

Hopper is known for her extraordinary innovation in the field of computing. Grace Hopper invented the compiler - and if you don't know what this is, it transforms source code into something that can be used by the machine.

She also started the surge into the era of high level languages. To make a program understood by a computer, it has to be transformed into 1's and 0's (binary). Humans typically do not understand binary very well, and it tends to be very hard to read even for people who have been coding in it for a long time. Hopper helped bring forth an age of high level languages which people can read and understand easier. Grace Hopper has a convention, Women in Computing, dedicated to her memory, along with scholarships and buildings with her name.

Grace Hopper may have been just one women, but as a pioneer for women in computing, she was extraordinary.

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