International Women’s Day: Celebrating women in programming


International Women's Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

By Thu-Ha Hong, Talent Coordinator at Sparta Global

There are a plethora of women who have made revolutionary changes to technology. To celebrate International Women’s Day, I have written about a few influential historic women who have made legendary breakthroughs in programming and who are role-models for computer science enthusiasts.

Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852)

Ada Lovelace was a writer and mathematician. She is widely known as the world’s first computer programmer who developed the algorithm for Charles Babbage’s computer, known as the Analytical Engine. Ada’s concept was that a computer has the potential to function beyond numerical calculations and that text and images could exist in digital form. In the Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage, it is explained that with her work, “the engine can arrange and combine its numerical quantities exactly as if they were letters or any other general symbols; and in fact it might bring out its results in algebraical notation”. Her work has had a massive impact on the technology we use today. To commemorate this and to honour women in STEM internationally, there is an Ada Lovelace day on October 11th. There is also an email community called Ada’s List for women interested in applying to roles within technology.

Grace Murray Hopper (1906 – 1992)

Grace Hopper is known as a pioneer in computer science having accomplished many ground-breaking inventions. She created the first computing language named Common Business Orientated Language (COBOL) based on the FLOW-MATIC language she developed in 1958. The language resembles the English lexicon, so it is easier to read and write for programmers rather than using mathematics. Therefore, making programming easier than it was initially and increasing the number of coders worldwide. Programmers use the words “if/then” instead of the numbers 1s and 0s nowadays because of this. The term ‘bugs’ within computing comes from Grace Hopper who picked a dead moth out of her computer’s system, affirming it ‘debugged’. She has been commended for her work internationally and has received many awards. The Data Processing Management Association named her the ‘Computer Science Man of the Year’ in 1969. In 1973, she was the first woman to become a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society (DFBCS). She was also the first woman to be awarded the National Medal of Technology in 1991 which is the highest honour within engineering and technology in America.

Margaret Hamilton (Age 81)

Margaret Hamilton is a renowned American computer scientist and systems engineer. She worked as an Apollo flight lead software designer for many years and then was appointed as the Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumental Laboratory. She had a pivotal role in developing an on-board flight software for the NASA Apollo space program in order for Neil Armstrong to be the first human being to land on the moon. In 1986, Margaret Hamilton founded Hamilton Technologies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is based on “the Universal Systems Language (USL) (along with its automation, the 001 Tool Suite), it is a revolutionary approach to systems thinking... To a great extent derived from lessons learned from the Apollo onboard flight software effort, USL has evolved over several decades and taken on multiple dimensions for both Systems Engineering and Software Development. Based on HTI's Development Before the Fact (DBTF) theory, it is unique, virtually eliminating errors before the fact”.

Sparta Global

Sparta Global has a commitment to increasing the proportional representation of women across the industry. As part of this, we work closely with Code First Girls and the Tech Charter with the aim of increasing the number of women launching their careers in technology. Our consultants are involved in commendable projects with renowned companies in different sectors across the UK. If you are a woman looking to get into technology, why not reach out to us and find out more about our opportunities. Applications are open now for our upcoming programmes.

From all at Sparta Global, happy International Women’s Day!