Four Inspiring Women in STEM

Women and Orbium March 5, 2018

Four Inspiring Women in STEM

Sara, Senior HR Officer, Zurich

Men have traditionally dominated the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and despite all the debates, speeches and articles about why fewer women study or pursue careers in these vital fields, change is still slow in coming.

Here, we take a look at four women from different periods in history who fought against gender prejudice and succeeded in proving that STEM is not just for men. In fact, without the achievements of some of these women, the success of famous men in the STEM fields would never have happened.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

Also known as Augusta Ada Byron, Ada was born in 1815 and developed her love for mathematics at a young age under the influence of her mother. She met fellow mathematician Charles Babbage, the “father of the computer”, when she was 17 years old. When Babbage introduced the idea of the Analytical Engine, she was asked by Italian mathematician Louis Menabrea to translate an article about it from French to English. However, what Ada produced wasn’t just a translation; she added her own notes, including an algorithm designed to be carried out by the machine, which many consider to be the world’s first computer program.

Grace Hopper (1906-1992)

Grace Hopper accomplished various firsts among women in STEM fields, which have garnered her the titles Queen of Computing, Amazing Grace, Queen of Coding and Grandma COBOL.

She was one of the first women to earn a master’s degree and PhD in mathematics from Yale. She also developed the first compiler, which converted programming language into machine code. This brought about the invention of the first programming language based on English words, called COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language), which is still used in many industries today.

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)

Actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr proved her worth in the field of science and technology when she and composer George Antheil conceptualised a radio guidance system for torpedoes that used frequency-hopping and “spread spectrum” technology to stop it being jammed. Although not adopted by the US Navy until the 1960s, Lamarr and Antheil’s spread-spectrum technology contributed to the development of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi communication.

Margaret Hamilton (1936-Present)

Margaret Hamilton led the team of MIT engineers making software for the Apollo space programme, including the onboard system that helped Apollo 11 successfully land on the moon on July 20, 1969. In recognition of her work, she received NASA’s Exceptional Space Act Award and has been credited with coining the term “software engineering”.

The accomplishments of these four women show us that artificial barriers set by society are just challenges waiting to be overcome. Everyone is entitled to have a dream – and gender bias should not hinder this right. As Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, said in an interview: “Until women are as ambitious as men, they’re not going to achieve as much as men.”

At Orbium we value all our employees equally. We encourage and provide plenty of opportunities for women to grow and flourish by developing the technology that is the basis of everything we do.