Before the emergence of Silicon Valley and a male-dominated coding world, women made up almost 35% of the coding workforce. According to recent statistics, that number has decreased to 19% of women in coding. Since the beginning of computer science technology, women have been making strides in the field. These 4 notable women have contributed valuable work to the world of coding.
(b. 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, Virginia)
Katherine Johnson worked for NASA as a mathematician between 1958 and 1986. During her time there, she predicted and planned the trajectory for multiple spacecrafts using coding. She is best known for accurately predicting the first space flight trajectory for Alan Shepherd in 1959 and John Glenn’s orbital path around the earth in 1962. Without her expert ability to code and compute these mathematical formulas, it is likely America would have had a much more difficult time competing in the space race.
(b. 1921 in Hampton, Virginia)
Known as the “human computer” during her career at NASA, Mary Winston Jackson worked as an aeronautical engineer. Working with both Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn, they were the brains behind NASA’s coding for the space program in the 1950s and 1960s. The movie Hidden Figures, released in 2016, attempts to capture the story of these three women of color and the struggles they had to face in a predominantly white male work environment.
(b. 1910 in Kansas City, Missouri)
Dorothy Vaughn was head of the West Area Computing for over ten years prior to being employed by NASA as a mathematician. She is best known for designing computer programming that led to successfully launching the first satellites into space. She also worked closely with Katherine Johnson on the coding needed to predict John Glen’s orbit around the earth.
(b. 1967 in Memphis, Tennessee)
Kimberly Bryant is an electrical engineer working in the biotechnology field. Frustrated with the whiteness and maleness of the coding world, she decided to leave her engineering job and work in the educational field instead. She is best known as the founder of Black Girls Code, a non-profit organization dedicated to introducing young African-American women to the world of computer programming and technology.