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Comet showers, codebreakers and Madame X
Did you know Florence Nightingale created a technique to fight infections in hospitals two hundred years ago? Or that, after the US Civil War ended in 1865, the government hired war widows as 'human computers'? From calculating comet showers to cracking Japanese naval codes and more, here are the historic women that shaped today's tech. You might be surprised.
In the beginning, there were human computers
We didn't always have snazzy Macbook Pros and Google Pixels. Way back, in 1613 to be exact, the word 'computer' was coined which meant 'those who compute,' or a person who calculates information. These sacred folk were champions of sums and all that came with it, like Maria Mitchell, an astrologist who plotted Venus' movements for the American Nautical Almanac (a source of celestial navigation). Most of the human computers, working until the 1960s, were women.But in a world of driverless cars and sex robots, it seems contributions like Maria's, and many other women like her, go unnoticed by the next generation of female cyber talent. A big claim? Not according to a recent report by PwC, in which 78 percent of students can't name any famous woman working in tech.
Setting the scene for today’s tech gender gap
It's no secret: tech isn't the easiest industry for women to break into. Women account for 5 percent of leadership positions in the tech sector, while only 10 percent of women working in a technology role work in a female-majority team, compared to 48 percent working in a male-majority team.But things are changing. According to Kaspersky's recent Women in Tech report, 56 percent say more women are working in IT than two years ago. Plus, one in two agree that remote working is improving gender equality. Win.
The historical women in computing we should all know about
History is brimming with influential women who pioneered new ways to calculate and compute. During International Women's Day, as more young women contemplate a career in tech, we celebrate the women who helped make computing history.
The Bletchley Park codebreakers – cracking codes and winning wars
Many historians see Alan Turing's work cracking the Nazi 'Enigma' code as critical to ending World War II. You may not know that 75 percent of the codebreakers at Bletchley Park (the institution Turing worked at) supporting him were women. The film 'The Imitation Game' is a Hollywood interpretation. But what's their real story?
Hedy Lamarr averts the Cuban Missile Crisis
1940s Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr co-invented a frequency hopping method that could control torpedoes remotely, and the signal couldn't be tracked or jammed. By the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the design was installed on Navy ships. The technology later made its way into everyday tech like Bluetooth and Wifi.
Grace Hopper invents new ways to code
Grace Hopper was the first person to create a compiler for a programming language. She's widely miscredited with coining the term 'bug' when a moth caused her computer to malfunction, though she did develop COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) and devised new symbolic ways to write computer code.
Ada Lovelace – the world’s first computer programmer
1843. Britain builds the Houses of Parliament, Charles Dickens publishes 'A Christmas Carol' and Ada Lovelace writes history's first computer program. The annual Ada Lovelace Day celebrates women's achievements in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and encourages girls and young women to follow in her path. Here's her story, in Jedi format.
Margaret Hamilton – 1969: A space odyssey
Hundreds of engineers, pilots and scientists were behind the 1969 moon landing. But in truth, it wouldn't have happened without Margaret Hamilton. Why? Because she programmed Apollo's onboard flight software.
Joan Ball – computer love in the swinging sixties
Long before apps like Bumble and Tinder got everyone swiping right for love, in 1964, Joan Ball set up the world's first computer-based matchmaking program, St. James Computer Dating Service. She sent surveys to people asking what they were looking for in a partner; then, she ran those through a computer program to find matches before sending the names and addresses to those who'd been paired. Imagine that?
Elizabeth "Jake" Feinler – Googling before Google began
As the leader of the Network Information Centre, supported by her mostly female team, Elizabeth Feinler, also known as 'Jake,' created ARPANET's directory. This was effectively the first internet directory in 1969, decades before we all started to Google. What had initially been a centralized location for web domains quickly transformed into a way of classifying and discovering the worldwide web.
Susan Kare - making Apple iconic
When you see the iconic trash symbol on your Apple Mac, thank Susan Kare. She worked with Steve Jobs to design the original icons, making home computers user-friendly.
Want more inspiring stories on how today's women in tech are progressing? Visit Kaspersky's Empower Women.
- Discussing The Queen's Gambit, chess and security | Kaspersky ... ›
- Tomorrow Unlocked > Women in tech – start your career now ›
Videos we love: Five amazing sci-fi shows that predict the future of tech
Technology could go anywhere in future. We ask you, which of these five sci-fi on-demand TV shows predicts it best?
Which sci-fi series gets our tech future right?
Predicting the future of tech is hard. These five on-demand sci-fi TV shows all predict different technological futures for humankind. Which do you think is closest to the truth?
Watch on Amazon Prime
In a new twist on the superhero saga, in Alphas, a select few humans have developed super senses, but they're also plagued by harmful drawbacks. For the crime-fighting supergroup, their strengths and flaws act as both help and hindrance.
Watch on Netflix
Set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored in human spines, people can survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness "re-sleeved" into new bodies. What could go wrong?
Watch on Netflix
Could technology alter memory and perception? Will AI be our friend or foe? Can we tell a digital human from a real one? This anthology of self-contained future worlds will satisfy the most curious minds, but is not for the faint-hearted.
Brave New World
Watch on Amazon Prime
This 2020 adaptation loosely based on Aldous Huxley's influential 1932 novel envisions a perfect, happy society, where everyone knows their place. But, with advanced genetic technology, is it possible?
Watch on BBC iPlayer (UK only)
In a world where quantum computing can predict all human behavior (ouch,) humanity places its trust in a crack team of developers to restore their freedom.
There you have it – our five favorite sci-fi shows predicting a technological future. Which stands out for you, and why? Tell us on Twitter or Facebook and see what others say. And at Tomorrow Unlocked, we have our own predictions for the future of tech. Strap in – this is Imagine Beyond.
Videos we like: Documentaries on how COVID-19 changed our world
How much will our lives change after COVID-19? We look at five of the most powerful documentaries made during the pandemic.
How did filmmakers see COVID-19?
The global community meets an invisible enemy, and must race against the clock to save humanity – COVID-19 is a compelling story. How was it seen by filmmakers around the world? These five must-see documentaries from creatives worldwide exploring different sides of the pandemic.
76 Days (above)
Directed by Hao Wu and Weixi Chen
What was Wuhan like in the pandemic's early days? Wonder no more. This acclaimed documentary is a poignant snapshot of struggle and resilience in the battle to survive the coronavirus.
Directed by Didi Mae Hand
The pandemic stretched hospital resources more than ever. Among the first to take advantage of the struggle was a wave of deadly hackers. Follow as the healthcare system fights the virus on two fronts.
Part of a series commissioned by Tomorrow Unlocked.
Directed by Ai WeiWei
Each country responded differently to the outbreak. China's was one of military and extreme efficiency. But what impact did that response have on their people? Behind the scenes of China's battle against a silent killer, directed by acclaimed artist Ai WeiWei.
Eight countries, one global pandemic
Directed by Great Big Story
This heartwarming documentary follows eight households from across the globe every day through the pandemic, to see how different families coped with lockdown.
Directed by Adam Benzine
The Trump administration's response to COVID-19 receives an insightful, highly emotional look from Academy Award-nominated director Adam Benzine.
It wasn't just professionals capturing the pandemic through a lens. During lockdown, we asked creatives worldwide to capture one hour from their pandemic experience. Watch the playlist we made from these moments – TWELVE.