13 Famous Women Who Changed Tech History Forever

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Radia Perlman – “Don’t Call Me Mother of the Internet”

Who’s going to break the news to Al Gore? Radia Perlman, often described as the ‘Mother of the Internet,’ insists that, “The Internet was not invented by any individual.”

Perlman did, however, create the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP), which is an essential part of the Internet’s underlying foundation.

As a child, Perlman put a lot of pressure on herself to get straight A’s. Although she excelled at all subjects, she naturally gravitated to math and science because she could control her grades by just knowing the right answer. Although her mother was a mathematician/computer programmer, similar to the women of ENIAC, the two rarely spoke about programming.

Perlman went on to MIT, just one of handful of females in her class (~50 of 1,000 students). In 2000, Perlman published her textbook “Interconnections,” greatly simplifying network routing and bridging. “My book created order,” she later said. “It was easy to understand while being conceptually thought-provoking, and a large part of the technology described was stuff I’d invented.”

Despite her success, Perlman keeps a level head and credits others equally for her success: “In engineering, the point is to get the job done, and people are happy to help. You should be generous with credit, and you should be happy to help others.

Next Up: Gladys West (click here or below)

11 Responses to “13 Famous Women Who Changed Tech History Forever”

    • Sophie Wilson was born Robert Wilson…a transwoman who started a career as a man should not take a space or attention away from a woman who was born female and socialized and raised female.

      • As a matter of fact, I am making a website for a webdev college course highlighting contributions of ALL WOMEN past, present and future and I have been looking for transwomen to feature on my site. I appreciate your bigotry because it just lead me to someone I can add. 🙂

      • I agree. A trans woman who grew up socialized as a MALE did not suffer the setbacks of a society putting him in “his place.” His contributions were already being recognized before he became a female. To equate his “struggle” for recognition and acceptance is to compare apples to oranges.

        To grow up socialized as a female effectively EXCLUDES one from all STEM-related expectations, and further INHIBITS, if not downright IMPEDES her being taken seriously in male-dominated fields. I know it because I lived it! He never did.

  1. False. The current climate of women in the tech industry is all-inclusive and we welcome transwomen. There is no place for discrimination in a field dedicated to advancement both in technology and social justice. Take a seat.

  2. ianpenfold

    what about Margeret Hamilton, who wrote most of the software for the 1969 apollo lunar landing, and invented the job title ‘software engineer’ which is still used today.

  3. Jim Austin

    The ladies who programmed the ENIAC didn’t use any programming languages with text editors and compilers. They were reportedly given blueprints of the machine and told to program it.