Grace Murray Hopper – a Pioneer in Computer Science

The rear admiral Grace Murray Hopper (born with the name of Grace Brewster Murray in New York City on the 9th of December 1006 – d. The 1st of January 1992), the first of the three children of the family, was a pioneer in computer science, and an officer in the military marine of the United States of America during the Second World War.

Grace Murray Hopper was among the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and she developed the first compiler for programming language which was the precursor of COBOL language.

Grace Murray Hopper
Grace Murray Hopper

Grace Murray Hopper took the passion for mathematics from her mother, Maria Van Horne. Both her mother and her father, Walter Murray (insurance broker), considered that their daughters must receive the same quality education as their brother.

Grace Hopper studied mathematics and physics at Vassar College, and graduated in 1928, whereupon in 1930 received a master degree in mathematics at Yale University. The same year she married Vincent Foster Hopper, name she kept even after their divorce in 1945.

In 1931, Grace Hopper started to teach at Vassar College, but continued to study at Yale, where she obtained a PhD in mathematics in 1934, becoming the first woman who ever received such a title.

After the war, Grace Hopper remained in the Marine as a reserve officer, but she was also researcher at Harvard where she worked with the computer Mark II and Mark III. She was present at Harvard in the moment when there was proved that a moth has supposedly short-circuited Mark II. Although Grace Hopper is not the inventor if the phrase “computer bug”, she popularised it very much.

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Sister Mary Kenneth Keller – the First Woman in the US to Obtain a PhD in CS

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller (born in Ohio 1914 – the 10th of January 1985) was the first woman in the United States to obtain a PhD in Computer Science on the Inductive Interference on models generated by the computer, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mary Kenneth Keller, who was also a nun, contributed to the development of BASIC, a programming language widely spread in the first ages of the information technology.

Mary Kenneth Keller
Mary Kenneth Keller

Sister Mary Kenneth joined the Sister of Charity Congregation in 1932, continuing to study at the DePaul University, where she received a bachelor in mathematics, and a master degree in mathematics and physics.

In 1958, Mary Kenneth Keller started to work at the Informatics Centre of Dartmouth College, an institution where, at the respective moment, only worked men, where she participated at development of the BASIC programming language.

In 1965, after obtaining her diploma of doctor in informatics, Mary Kenneth Keller founded the Informatics Department at the Clarke College in Iowa, which she led for 20 years. The Clark College owns now the Clark Computer Centre, which comes to help the students, the members of the faculty, and the staff.

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller was passionate about ensuring the access to information for everyone, not only for the computer scientists, imagining a world where computers make people more intelligent, and able to think on their own. Thus, Sister Mary Kenneth Keller declared “For the first time, we can mechanically stimulate the cognitive process. We can make studies on artificial intelligence. Besides, this mechanism [computer] can be used to help people in the learning process. This way we will have more mature students in greater numbers, in time this way of teaching becoming more and more important.”

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Ada Lovelace – the First World’s Programmer

Ada Lovelace (born with the name of Augusta Ada Byron, on the 10th of December 1815), considered to be the first world’s programmer, was the daughter that the romantic poet George Gordon Byron, or shortly, Lord Byron, had with Anne Isabella Milbanke inside their short marriage, and she was herself an expert mathematician in a time when women did not have such practices.

Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace never got to know her famous father, for her parents broke up immediately after her bith, and Lord Byron passed away when she was 8 years old in Greece, year 1923. Her entire life was a continuous struggle between feeling and reason, subjectivity and objectivity, poetry and mathematics, health and disease.

Ada Lovelace showed her passion for mathematics and logic ever since she was a child, her mother being the one who guided her towards these disciplines, attempting to counteract the dangerous poetic tendencies she inherited from her father. However, her skills were perfected by Augustus De Morgan, her first teacher of mathematical sciences at the University of London, and one of the people who can be held responsible for the development of the modern algebra.

At the age of 17, Ada Lovelace met Mary Somerville, a remarkable woman who translated the works of LaPlace into English, and who also encouraged her to study mathematics, but tried to place both mathematics and technology into a suitable human context.

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Women and Girls in STEM

STEM education has become more and more important, and it is required for an interconnected global economy. The acronym refers to a range of academic disciplines, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, meant to bring a significant and beneficial contribution to the training offered by the education system in these fields. They provide workforce development, shaping the students’ vision according to the market requirements. We should mention the STEM initiative proposed by Georgette Yakman, the one who has introduced art among these disciplines, believing that there is a connexion between them, complying with the global socio-economic system.


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