Women Programmers in WWII

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rowan
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Women Programmers in WWII

Postby rowan » Wed Feb 9, 11:21 2011

Women have been programming computers for a long time... a number of them started as people who did ballistics computations in WWII. Then some men built a machine to do computations, but someone had to teach it how to do them -- the women who were already doing the computations. They programmed the machine for the military, they debugged it, they made it to do complex math faster than could be done by hand.

And then they showed the brass how it worked.

But none of the women programmers was invited to the celebratory dinner that followed. Later, the heard they were thought of as... models, placed there to show off the machine.


Read about these interesting women here:
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/innova ... l?hpt=Sbin

It's interesting how quickly this information gets lost. We hear about Ada Lovelace (the first programmer ever) but when we never hear that the first programmers of a modern computer were women. I hope there are teachers who can use the documentary and the teachers' guides in their curriculum!
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Re: Women Programmers in WWII

Postby Dragonrider » Wed Feb 9, 22:17 2011

I am reading the article, and I just have to say: this is totally badass. The work that they did, not the fact that it got lost in the annals of time. They should be celebrated!
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Re: Women Programmers in WWII

Postby BradMillersHero » Thu Feb 10, 10:40 2011

rowan wrote:Women have been programming computers for a long time... a number of them started as people who did ballistics computations in WWII. Then some men built a machine to do computations, but someone had to teach it how to do them -- the women who were already doing the computations. They programmed the machine for the military, they debugged it, they made it to do complex math faster than could be done by hand.

And then they showed the brass how it worked.

But none of the women programmers was invited to the celebratory dinner that followed. Later, the heard they were thought of as... models, placed there to show off the machine.


Read about these interesting women here:
http://edition.cnn.com/2011/TECH/innova ... l?hpt=Sbin

It's interesting how quickly this information gets lost. We hear about Ada Lovelace (the first programmer ever) but when we never hear that the first programmers of a modern computer were women. I hope there are teachers who can use the documentary and the teachers' guides in their curriculum!


This is fascinating... although it always is sad to read about the female workers during WW2 who had their work diminished by being thought of as temporary replacements and not career women.

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Re: Women Programmers in WWII

Postby Spike » Thu Feb 10, 19:32 2011

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Last edited by Spike on Fri Jun 14, 19:35 2013, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Women Programmers in WWII

Postby Sonic# » Thu Feb 10, 21:05 2011

This is fascinating stuff. Especially given the ingrained stereotypes that women weren't capable mathematicians, they found, trained, and used many women in computing work. And then after the war, tossed them away. It certainly puts a lively spin on Rosie the Riveter, Bartik the computer. ^_^ I'm glad we didn't end up losing knowledge of that history, and it makes me wonder what other contributions we have lost or covered over.


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