Throughout history, women have made immeasurable contributions to the world of technology, and this year for Women’s History Month, LaunchCode is recognizing some of these contributions and celebrating the strides in tech that have helped get us to where we are today. LaunchCode is proud of the work we've done opening more doors to our women+ community, developing direct pathways into careers, and creating a pool of diverse talent for our company partners to tap into. While this list is certainly not exhaustive of all the contributions made by women in technology, we wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the no-short-of-mammoth movements made by women in the field:
Known as the first computer programmer, Lovelace worked with Charles Babbage on the ‘difference machine,’ a tower of numbered wheels that could calculate reliably with the turn of a crank. She was able to take this data and translate it into information that led to its designation as the first general-purpose computer, giving cause to a new computing language named after her by the U.S. Department of Defense in the 1990’s.
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was both a computer pioneer and naval officer, with two degrees in mathematics. Hopper was granted her master’s degree in 1930 and her Ph.D. in 1934 both from Yale University. She began her computer science career after coming to the realization that programming was derived from numerical code and recognizing that these programs would be more accessible if people could code in their own language. She then created the first universal programming language used in business and government.
Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian immigrant, actress, and inventor who pioneered the technology that led to the creation of Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology communication systems. She, along with George Antheil, created a new communication system for guiding torpedoes to specified targets in war. Lamarr was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the development of frequency-hopping technology in 2014. She is affectionately dubbed “The Mother of Wi-Fi.”
A computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist, Easley worked on the Centaur technology at NASA, creating a high-energy rocket tech that uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to boost rockets into space. She co-authored a number of papers and journals regarding nuclear engines and rocket propulsion. She also helped pioneer technology projects regarding solar, wind, and renewable energy. With more than 30 years of experience at NASA, Easley faced racial discrimination and fought for greater equity within the field.
A former computer programmer and logic designer, Wilkes is most famous for creating the software for LINC, one of the earliest systems of an interactive personal computer. She was recognized for this work by The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park. She left the computing field in 1972 to pursue law practice.
CoderGirl started as a gathering of LaunchCoders in 2014 as an informal, community-based support and social meetup. Through this group, people came together as a way to learn, study and support each other as they learned the skills needed to enter the tech industry. Soon after, LaunchCode saw the importance of this meetup and realized the need to build community for women and marginalized genders within the tech world and brought the CoderGirl meetup officially under LaunchCode’s umbrella of programs. As a LaunchCode program, CoderGirl flourished and grew, greatly contributing to diversifying the tech workforce in St. Louis.
While CoderGirl made great strides in breaking down the barriers women often face in the world of technology, the name wasn’t reflective of the talented individuals LaunchCode serves through the program. In January 2022, the name CoderGirl was eliminated, with LaunchCode continuing to serve our Women+ audience through a range of courses covering in-demand skill tracks and acting as an on-ramp into the field. To learn more about the name change, check out this blog post.
Tasmyn Scarl was appointed CEO in March of 2023 - a perfect way to celebrate Women’s History Month! She was chosen through a highly-selective process by a search firm, and brings with her a rich background of leadership experience and a passion for STEM opportunities for all. We’re excited to have Tasmyn lead us into the next phase of growth and innovation! You can read more about Tasmyn on this blog post.
LaunchCode continues to work to create space for those underrepresented in tech to not only enter the industry, but thrive!
Women’s history month is a 31-day celebration of the work women have done in all fields, and we are proud to have recognized that at LaunchCode, and beyond. If you’re interested in becoming more involved with our mission, sign up for our newsletter here to stay up to date.