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A History of Trailblazing Women in STEM

These 10 women overcame myriad obstacles to make groundbreaking contributions to STEM fields.

Throughout history, women have made significant contributions to science, math, astronomy, and information technology, despite facing significant obstacles and discrimination.

From the ancient Greek mathematician Hypatia to 19th century computer scientist Ada Lovelace to groundbreaking modern-day biochemist Katalin Karikó, women pioneers in these fields have challenged gender stereotypes and pushed the boundaries of what is possible.

Women — including Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron — made significant contributions to science and mathematics in the 19th and early 20th centuries that fundamentally changed the way we live and work today.

Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer for her work on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a precursor to modern computers.

Beginning in the mid-20th century, women began to make their mark in the field of information technology and made critical contributions to the exploration of space and the development of the Apollo program.

Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and naval officer, invented the first compiler, a program that translates human-readable code into machine-readable code. She was also instrumental in the development of the COBOL programming language.

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician, worked for NASA and was instrumental in calculating the trajectories for the early space flights — including Apollo 11's flight to the moon — and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.

Women continue to make significant contributions to STEM fields today, including Nobel Laureate Frances Arnold, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018, and Dr. Katie Bouman, who played a pivotal role in the first-ever image of a black hole.

Despite the progress made, women still face numerous barriers in these fields, such as gender bias, discrimination, and the gender pay gap.

By celebrating the achievements of women pioneers in these fields during Women's History Month, their contributions can continue to inspire and pave the way for future generations of women in the fields of science, astronomy, biochemistry, and the groundbreaking technologies of tomorrow.

About the author

Nathan Eddy headshotNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.
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