13 Famous Women Who Changed Tech History Forever

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Sister Mary Kenneth Keller: First Female Computer Science PhD

The first woman to receive a Ph.D in Computer Science was a nun: Mary Kenneth Keller entered the “Sister of Charity” in 1932, professing her vows in 1940.

Keller received her B.S./M.S. Mathematics from DePaul University in Chicago and briefly studied at Dartmouth, breaking the “men-only” rule. While there, Keller played a significant role developing a key computer language: Beginner’s All-Puprose Symbolic Instruction Code, or BASIC.

Keller understood that the world was “having an information explosion… and information is of no use unless it’s available.” Thanks to BASIC, writing custom software was no longer restricted to mathematicians and scientists. Her contribution made computer use much more accessible to a broader portion of the population.

Keller returned to the Midwest and, in 1965, received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin. Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa hired Keller to create and chair their Computer Science Department, where she continued to grow and share her knowledge for 20 years.

Next Up: Susan Kare (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.