In 1945, six young women programmed the ENIAC, the 80-foot-long, eight-foot-tall, first all-electronic programmable computer.
On March 12 2009, you will have the opportunity to meet one of these amazing women, as she is honored by MDWIT for her historic contributions to the role of women in technology. *my note* Less than 25% of computing industry is female and numbers in US/Canada have dropped since the 70s. Minorities are less than 10%. Relative positions and salaries continue to be inequal. (February 2009 issue of Communications of the ACM “Inspiring Women in Computing”)
Jean Jennings Bartik (left) and Frances Bilas Spence (right) preparing for the public unveiling of ENIAC, February 1946.
Born December 27, 1924, in Northwest Missouri, Jean Bartik grew up on a farm, the sixth of seven children. Jean graduated from the Northwest Missouri State Teachers College in 1944, and went to work as a programmer for Army Ordnance at Aberdeen Proving Ground. It was in Aberdeen where Jean met and harnessed the power of the ENIAC.
“I was just at the right place at the right time. It was divine providence or fate that selected me to be an ENIAC programmer. Betty Holberton quoted something interesting recently, ‘Look like a girl, Act like a lady, Think like a man, and Work like a dog.’
I was told I’d never make it to VP rank because I was too outspoken. Maybe so, but I think men will always find an excuse for keeping women in their ‘place.’ So, let’s make that place the executive suite and start more of our own companies.” – Jean Bartik (read more about her in this Computer World – Unsung Innovators article)