Women In Coding: Popular Trailblazers Of The Industry

February 25, 2022 by Pragya Bansal

There is no future without a past… - Siri Hustvedt

As this quote rightly states, we cannot see a future without honoring our past. This holds true in every domain, including the world of technology and innovation. And, with International Women’s Day right around the corner, it is a good time to take a look at some of the women trailblazers of the coding industry who have paved the way for fellow women to make their mark in this field.

These women trailblazers fearlessly shattered the glass ceiling and broke the conventional barriers of gender inequality.

This article aims to celebrate the achievements of these great achievers and how their contribution has impacted the world of coding today.

Women in coding

Ada Lovelace

Image Credit: Universal Images Group/Getty Images

No list of the popular women trailblazers in the world of coding could be complete without mentioning the first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace.

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and writer known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to discover that a computer could follow a series of sequences (a program). In 1843, she drew an outline of the world’s first program that could perform all computations, and not just mathematics as Babbage was originally aiming for.

Two centuries later, even as the science of computers has taken quantum leaps, Lady Ada’s name continues to live on. She helped usher in the idea of what modern computers would become.

To honor her legacy, a team led by Dr. Jean Ichbiah at CII-Honeywell-Bull in France, created the Ada programming language in the early 1980s. This version, today, is known as Ada 83.

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller

Image Credit: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, the first person in the US to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science, was a trailblazer in higher education. She worked tirelessly to expand the reach of computer science and truly paved the way for women wanting to learn programming.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she collaborated with John G. Kemeny and Thomas E. Kurtz to create BASIC, a simple computer code that allows people without intermediate mathematical skills to develop computer software.

She also founded the Association of Small Computer Users in Education (ASCUE). This organization, which is still active today, works towards promoting the use of technology in education. She also founded the Computer Science department at Clarke University in Iowa. She taught and then directed the department for 18 years.

She worked throughout her life to make it possible for women to learn computer sciences and advocated for women in coding. The Keller Computer Center and Information Services and Mary Kenneth Keller Computer Science Scholarship, both honor her remarkable legacy at Clarke University.

Grace Hopper

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was an American computer scientist who also served as a rear admiral in the United States Navy.

Known for her involvement as one of the earliest developers in the creation of the Harvard Mark I computer while he served in the United States Navy during World War II. She is also a pioneer in the field of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers.

She is also accoladed for developing the COBOL language that is still in use today. Throughout her career, Grace Hopper advocated for making the field of computer science, coding, and research more accessible for women.

Fun trivia! Grace Hopper was the first person to use the word bug when she found a moth in her computer hardware that was causing the computer to malfunction.

Joan Ball

Image Credit: Girls in Tech

Joan Ball is a computer pioneer. She was the first to create a computer dating service in England in 1964, known as the St. James Computer Dating Service; this pre-dated even the earliest American dating services, such as Operation Match at Harvard.

After conducting a survey about what people look for in their prospective match, she created a program that helped match people with eligible partners. The first match made by this program was in 1964, a year before Operation Match at Harvard was created!

In 1965, Joan Ball merged her computer dating service with another marriage bureau and renamed St. James Computer Dating Service to Com-Pat, which was short for Computerized Compatibility.

Annie Easley

Image Credit: NASA

In 1955, Annie Easley was a computer scientist. She was initially given the task of handling computations for researchers by analyzing and calculating problems by hand.

Soon she adapted herself to computer languages and became a programmer after which she developed the code which is used in researching energy-conversion systems.

It is interesting to note that Easly did all of this before she got any formal education. Throughout her life, Easly took up many schools tutoring programs to inspire women and other students from minority sections to take up careers in technology and coding.

Some more notable names in the world of coding include, but are, of course, not limited to:

  • Katherine Johnson, whose calculations helped USA’s earlier space exploration expeditions.
  • The Women of ENIAC; the women of ENIAC were the world’s first coders, they programmed the ENIAC and manipulated the ENIAC to calculate missile trajectories.
  • Adele Goldberg, whose work inspired Steve Jobs’ creation of the first Apple computer.
  • Carol Shaw, who created some of the most popular retro gaming graphics.


It can be said that today, the world of coding for women is much more accessible. However, it is thanks to the efforts of these women, and many more, that women have made their place in the technology field and are creating wonders today.

Women in coding: Trivia

A global survey—conducted in 2021 to determine the gender distribution among software developers—found that only 5% of the 82,000+ respondents were women.

It is interesting to note that coding, which today is a male-dominated field, began as an ideal career option for women. During the Second World War, women performed computer-related tasks as they could not be drafted to fight in the fields.

Ada Lovelace is regarded as the first computer programmer. She is also considered to be the mother of programming.

One of the main reasons for the fewer number of women in the world of coding is the masculine stereotypes created in society for choosing STEM majors in early school and college education.

Margaret Hamilton, born in 1936, is regarded as the first woman software engineer.

Margaret Hamilton, born in 1936, is regarded as the first woman software engineer.