ICT and engineering are a matter of men: how many times have we heard this? Well, that’s not completely true, as there are many women who set important milestones in the development of key technologies.
While it is hard to quote all of them, let us mention the extraordinary contribution of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and highly talented mathematician. We acknowledge Ada for the intuition that paved the way to the first electronic calculation systems: working on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, in the 1840s Ada created an algorithm to generate Bernoulli numbers, the first written to processed by a machine. That’s why she is remembered as the first computer programmer in the world, and in the 1970s the US Department of Defense honored her by naming ADA its computer programming language initiative.
Modern search engines need to pay tribute to Karen Spärck Jones, the British researcher who in 1972 investigated inverse document frequency and introduced the first algorithms for information retrieval, text mining and user modeling. Her studies were leveraged in the 1990s to develop the AltaVista search engine.
Thinking of mobile technologies, we shouldn’t forget Hedy Lamarr, actress of Austrian origins who was also a brilliant scientist. In the first half of the 1930s she devised a modulation system to encode information and transmit it on radio frequencies, which was first used to remotely control torpedoes and military vessels. This technology laid foundations of cryptography, as well as mobile and wireless communications as we know them today.
Let’s homage these women, and ensure our continued support and encouragement to the many, many women who every day work for innovation with talent and passion.
Happy Women’s Day!