CBR lists the top 10 female pioneers in tech in aid of Women’s History Month.
Joan Clarke was formerly known as a Cryptanalyst and Numismatist, and also for her work as a code-breaker at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.
Following her recruitment to the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), Clarke worked at Bletchley Park and quickly became the only female practitioner of the cryptanalytic process.
There were said to be over 6,700 women working in Bletchley and its outstations, which formed more than 75 percent of the total workforce.
Joan Clarke continued her career in codebreaking after the war at GCHQ and was awarded an MBE for her contributions during the war.
Clarke also took part in the Enigma project against Nazi Germany’s secret communications. This was an electro-mechanical machine used by the German military to encrypt and decrypt messages
Clarke and other influential women who worked at Bletchley Park are still used as key examples for young females in Tech to look up to, for instance Kerry Howard, Bletchley Park researcher said:
“Women like Margaret Rock, Joan Clare and Mavis Lever are marvellous examples of women meeting their potential in a time of conflict, opening the door to long careers in codebreaking that they would never have been exposed to before the war.
“These are inspiring role models for young women considering careers in STEM, where there are more opportunities than the Bletchley women could ever dream of.”
Referred to as the “Mother of Internet,” Radia Perlman is a Software Designer and Network Engineer who helped in developing Ethernet technology to become a household name.
In 1985 she also developed a spanning tree algorithm to enable the scalability of network traffic using Ethernet. This also made it possible to transform the technology from its limited capacity to being able to connect a large numbers of computer systems into a network.
Perlman has her own inventions, named TORTIS (Toddler’s Own Rescue Turtle Interpreter System) which is a child-friendly robotic language that helps young programmers-to-be to learn about computers. Following this, Perlman has been described as a pioneer of teaching young children computer programming.
Radia Perlman currently holds more than 100 patents and has received various awards, including induction into the National Academy of Engineers and the Internet Hall of Fame.
Perlman now works for Dell EMC and is part of the company’s plan to provide inspiration to the next generation of aspiring engineers.
The first female Electrical Engineer and the first female professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas, Edith Clarke specialised in electrical power system analysis.
After being unable to pursue a career as an engineer, Clarke went on to work for General Electric as a supervisor of computers within the Turbine Engineering Development.
One of her fascinating inventions included the Clarke calculator, which was a simple graphic device that solved equations involving electric current, voltage and impedance in power transmission lines that she invented in her spare time.
The calculator was able to solve line equations involving hyperbolic functions ten times faster than previous methods. It also enabled engineers and analysts to solve equations easier and characterise long transmission lines accurately.
This tool assisted Clarke’s work to gather data about the power grid and can still be seen as the first step towards smart grid technology.
In 2015, Clarke was elected entry into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for the invention of the Clarke calculator.