A Journey To Empowerment

Written by Shambhavi, Arshnoor, Zoya, Manjari, & Aishwarya

Women have been long suppressed and neglected by their counterparts. But history is proof that each time, they faced adversities with valor and emerged victoriously. Their sacrifices clench our hearts and their struggles fill us with pride. And so, on this day, let’s celebrate Women in the technological field and Women’s equality with all of the people who believe in the vision of inclusion and diversity.

Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada Byron, daughter of famed poet Lord Byron and Countess of Lovelace, better known as Ada Lovelace has secured a name for herself. This woman has so many titles, from "The World's First Female Coder" to "Enchantress Of Numbers”, her achievements and milestones make her one of the most eminent women of all time.

Early Years

Ada Lovelace showed her interest in mathematics at an early age. She translated an article on an invention by Charles Babbage and added her comments. Because she introduced many computer concepts, Lovelace is considered the first computer programmer.

She was born on December 10, 1815, to Lord George Gordon Byron and Lady Anne Isabella Milbanke Byron from an unhappy marriage. Only weeks after their daughter was born Lady Byron split from her husband. Lord Byron left England a few months later and Ada never saw her dad again. He died in Greece when she was 8 years old.

With her mother's insistence, tutors taught her mathematics and science as her mother believed that engaging in rigorous studies would prevent her from developing her father's habits. To teach her self-control, she was made to lie for extended durations.

Due to her curiosity and interest, she received instruction from William Frend, William King, and Mary Somerville, a social reformer, family doctor, and Scottish astronomer and mathematician respectively.

Lovelace and Charles Babbage

Around the age of 17, Ada met Charles Babbage, the father of computers. Charles acted as her mentor as well as her friend. Through him, she began studying advanced mathematics with Augustus de Morgan, professor at the University of London.

She was fascinated by Babbage's ideas and due to her relationship with him, got a chance to look at the difference engine, which was meant to perform mathematical calculations before it was finished, and was captivated by it. He also had plans for another device known as the analytical engine, designed to handle more complex calculation.

Furthermore, when she was asked to translate an article on Charles analytical engine that had been written by Italian engineer Luigi Federico Menabrea for a Swiss journal, she not only translated it but also added her thoughts and ideas on the machine. Her notes ended up being thrice as long as the original article and her work were published in 1843, in an English science journal.

She explained how codes to handle letters and symbols along with numbers could be produced for the system. She also theorized a way for the engine to repeat a sequence of instructions, a technique known as a looping technique used today by computer programs. For her work, she is often considered to be the first computer programmer.

She has been trying to build mathematical schemes for winning at gambling in her later years. Sadly her plans failed, putting her at financial risk.

Personal Life

She married William King, 8th Baron King, and later 1st Earl of Lovelace in 1838, on 8 July 1835. They had three kids. Byron born 12 May 1836, Anne Isabella born on 22 September 1837, and Ralph Gordon was born on 2 July 1839. Other than Mary Somerville, who introduced her in turn to Charles Babbage on 5 June 1833, she was friends with Sir David Brewster, Charles Wheatstone, Charles Dickens, and Michael Faraday.

She died, at the age of 36, on 27 November 1852 due to uterine cancer and bloodletting by her physicians.

Fun Facts

1. The computer language "Ada", created by the U.S. Defense Department, was named after Lovelace.

2. The reference manual for the language was approved on 10 December 1980, and the Department of Defense Military Standard for the language, “MIL-STD-1815”, was given the number of the year of her birth.

3. Since 1998, the British Computer Society has awarded a medal in her name and in 2008 initiated an annual competition for women students of computer science.

4. Microsoft runs a fellowship with her name and influence.

5. Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology.

6. She also predicted that computers could do more than just crunch numbers.

Betty Holberton

Betty Holberton rose to fame when she became one of the six original programmers of ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer). It is the first general-purpose electronic digital computer and was the inventor of breakpoints in computer debugging.

The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was the first computer known to mankind. Its advanced technology emerged in 1946 and aided humankind by solving complex numerical problems all on its own. Had it not been for this revolutionary new piece of technology, the United States may have never seen victory in World War II.

Early Life and Education

Betty Holberton was born to Frances Elizabeth Snyder in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1917.

Holberton studied journalism because its curriculum allowed her to travel far afield. Journalism was also one of the few options open to women as a career in the 1940s. Her mathematics professor asked her on her first day of classes at the University of Pennsylvania whether she wouldn't be better off doing chores and raising children at home.


The men in the country were engaged in World War II. That’s when the army needed women to computing ballistic trajectories. Holberton was recruited to work as a "computer" by the Moore School of Engineering, and was picked as one of six women to program the ENIAC, known as "sub professionals." Holberton, along with Kay McNulty, Marlyn Wescoff, Ruth Lichterman, Betty Jean Jennings, and Fran Bilas, programmed the ENIAC to perform calculations for ballistics trajectories electronically for the Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL), US Army.

During her time working on ENIAC she had many productive ideas that came to her overnight, leading other programmers to jokingly state that she "solved more problems in her sleep than other people did awake."The ENIAC was disclosed on February 15, 1946, at the University of Pennsylvania. It cost around $487,000, equivalent to $7,195,000 in 2019.

Holberton had worked at Remington Rand and the National Standards Bureau after World War II. She was the chief of programming work at the David Taylor Model Basin, Applied Mathematics Laboratory in 1959. She helped to develop the UNIVAC, designing control panels that put the numeric keypad next to the keyboard. In 1953, she was the supervisor of advanced programming in the Navy’s Applied Math lab in Maryland, where she stayed until 1966. She worked along with John Mauchly to develop the C-10 instruction set for BINAC, which is considered to be the prototype of all modern programming languages.

Awards and Legacy

Betty was the only woman among the original six who programmed the ENIAC in 1997 to receive the Augusta Ada Lovelace Prize, the highest recognition granted by the Women's Computing Association. She was awarded the IEEE Computer Pioneer Award in 1997 for developing the sort-merge generator which, according to IEEE, "inspired the first ideas on compiling." The Holberton School, a project-based school for software engineers in San Francisco was founded in Betty Holberton's honor in 2015.

A documentary entitled "Top Secret Rosies: The Female Computers "was released in 2010. The film focused on in-depth interviews with three of the six women programmers, focusing on their praiseworthy patriotic efforts during World War II.


Betty died on December 8, 2001, in Rockville, Maryland, aged 84. She died due to heart disease, diabetes, and complications from a stroke she suffered before. She lived with her husband John Vaughn Holberton and her daughters Pamela and Priscilla.


Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-born female astronaut and physicist to go to space.

Early life

Born in Karnal, Haryana, on 17 March 1962. As a child, Kalpana was fascinated by airplanes and flying. She watched her father fly planes at the local flying clubs. "We'd ask my dad if we could get a seat in one of these aircraft once in a while, to Chawla said. And, he did take us to the flying club and we had a joyride in the Pushpak and a glider that the flying club had”. Kalpana Chawla enjoyed flying, hiking, backpacking, and reading.


Chawla graduated from Tagore School in 1976, where she served as a high-performing student. After graduating from Punjab Engineering College, India with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering, she moved to the United States in 1982 and in 1984 obtained a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington. Chawla gained a second Master's degree from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1986 and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from 1988.


  • In 1988, Kalpana Chawla began work in the field of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics at NASA Ames Research Centre. Her research focused on simulating complex airflows encountered in "ground effect" around aircraft such as the Harrier. After completing this project, she supported research into mapping flow solvers to parallel computers and testing these solvers by performing powered lift computations. As Vice President and Research Scientist, Kalpana Chawla joined Overset Methods Inc., Los Altos in 1993 to form a team with other researchers specializing in moving multiple body problems simulation. She was in charge of the development, and implementation of efficient techniques to perform aerodynamic optimization.

  • First Space Mission- Its first space mission began on 19 November 1997 as part of the six-astronaut crew flying the Space Shuttle Columbia STS-87 flight. Chawla was the first female Indian to fly in space. She spoke the following words while traveling in the weightlessness of space, "You are only your intelligence." On her first mission, Chawla traveled more than 10.4 million miles (16737177.6 km), logging more than 372 hours (15 days and 12 hours) in space. During STS-87, she was responsible for deploying the malfunctioning Spartan Satellite which required a spacewalk to capture the satellite by Winston Scott and Takao Doi. A five-month NASA investigation completely exonerated Chawla by identifying software interface errors and the flight crew and ground control procedures as defined.

  • Second Space Mission- In 2001 Chawla was selected as part of the STS-107 crew for her second flight This mission was repeatedly delayed due to scheduling conflicts and technical issues. Chawla eventually returned to space aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on January 16, 2003. During the launch of STS-107, the 28th mission in Columbia, a piece of foam insulation broke off the space shuttle's internal tank and struck the orbiter's left-wing. Previous shuttle launches had seen minor damage from the shedding of the foam, but some engineers suspected Columbia's damage was more serious. When Columbia re-entered the earth's atmosphere, the damage allowed hot atmospheric gasses to penetrate and destroy the inner wing structure, which resulted in the spacecraft becoming unstable and breaking apart. Space Shuttle flight operations had been suspended for more than two years following the disaster.

Award and legacy

Chawla is celebrated today in dozens of memorials across the world for her contributions to space exploration and her kindness, hard work, dedication, and passion for flight.

  • In 2004, NASA dedicated a supercomputer to Kalpana at NASA Ames Research Center. It was the world’s first single-system Linux supercomputer.

  • She was posthumously awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 2004. Currently, only 28 astronauts have been honored with this award

  • Chawla’s alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, dedicated two memorials to her. The first memorial in 2004 was a dormitory named Kalpana Chawla Hall. The second memorial was dedicated to Chawla in 2010 in the College of Engineering at the university. The display includes a flight suit, photos, and a flag flown over NASA Johnson Space Center during the memorial for the fallen astronauts from the Columbia disaster.


Chawla died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on 1 February 2003, along with the other six crew members, when Columbia disintegrated over Texas during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. Chawla's remains were identified along with those of the rest of the crewmembers and cremated and dispersed in accordance with her wishes at Zion National Park in Utah.

Elizabeth Jocelyn Feinler

Elizabeth Jocelyn Feinler is an American data specialist. She served as the administrator of the Network Information Systems Center for 17 years at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI International). With undergraduate graduation from West Liberty State College, she was also the first of her family to graduate and even go to college. She was born on 2 March 1931 and turned 89 this year.

Some of her other roles include the originator of the Using working group, which later converted into the IETF Users working group. She was also (adding to her many excelling professions) an establishing member of the Internet Engineering Task Force and Information Centers and worked as a key feature of IEEE, ACM, ASIS while being elected as the Delegate on libraries to the White House Conference.

After being a member in 1972 of Dr. Douglas Engelbart’s Augmentation Research Center, which is where her work towards making the internet began, she got into the SRI International in Menlo Park 1960 managing the Information Research Department as a data specialist. As she ended up operating with the Defense Data Network (DDN), network information centers (NIC) within a deal to the Department of Defense, she was transferred from a Host 2 of the Internet. Each of these initial systems later became the pioneers of the Internet that exists today.

The “yellow-” and “white-page” pages that exist today were also a result of the development that her group and her made along with the first query-based screening hostname and address (WHOIS) server. She also gets credit for handling the Host Naming Registry for the Internet for 19 whole years. As a member of this initiative, She further played a key role in generating a computer program named PCSam that recovered emails from online devices and made it a hardware material (very similar to downloading it) to a customer's processor. This is now known to be one of the prototypes for the email systems we have now on various domains. She also went above and beyond by having the role of the editor-in-chief for numerous Internet informational texts like the Arpanet/DDN Directory, DoD Protocol Handbook, DoD Protocol Implementation, and Vendors Guide, and more. It's also notable to add that she also developed the top-level domain identifying the design of .com, .edu, .gov, .mil, .org, and .net, which are very much seen today and remain relevant as ever. The NIC also investigated and maintained elements of the primary Internet audit trail and billing method for the Department of Defense while enrolling participants for getting a method to various network channels.

Moreover, even after retiring, she continued to give back to society by being an active volunteer for the Computer History Museum in CA and even donated 350 boxes of archives from the NIC plans. In turn, throughout her career, she received various commendations such as being part of the SRI Alumni Hall of Fame in 2000. One of her most remarkable accomplishments will, however, always be remarked that she perhaps gave humankind its greatest technological gift ever that has helped us cross boundaries and leaps since then.


We remember personalities like Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, Alan Turing, and many more because they contributed a lot in the field of science and technology. What about females like Esther Lederberg?

The people only know the above great personalities no one talks about females and their contribution. Females usually are taken for granted. Same happened with Esther Lederberg, why is it that we barely know her name?

Esther Miriam Zimmer Lederberg was born on 18th December 1922 in The Bronx, New York, United States. Born as the oldest child to a poor Bronx family, her father was born in Sereth, Bukovina modern-day Romania, and opened a print shop in the Bronx. They were so poor that her school lunches consisted only of a single slice of bread with the juice of a tomato squeezed on top. Lederberg’s dedication to her studies, curiosity, and willingness to challenge social norms make her one of the most brilliant women of the 20th century. She never let her financial bearings stop her from achieving what she wanted.


She attended Evander Childs High School and graduated when she was only 16 due to her brilliance and intelligence. Then she went to Hunter College where she initially intended to study French and Literature but she studied biochemistry because of the horror of her professors. Unknown of her future achievements and the orthodox thinking her professors tried to convince her that a woman had no place in the scientific world but Lederberg pushed herself for the roles that females typically did not receive. She went on to receive a Masters in Genetics from Stanford University.


She later began working as a research assistant at the Carnegie Institute of Washington. She worked with Alexander Hollaender and Milislav Demerec investigating the genetics of bacteria to make penicillin more effective. In 1944 she published her first paper, one of the few papers for which she received proper credit as a co-author. While working on UV and X-Ray mutations in the production of penicillin, she was awarded a fellowship at Stanford University.

Lederberg believed that her gender had nothing to do with what she could accomplish. Through this mindset, she was also working to dispel the common notion that women weren’t as capable as men.

Lederberg married Joshua Lederberg, a professor at the University of Wisconsin. She had to work twice as hard to be awarded the same privileges that the men in her field received so easily. Even with all of the hindrances she faced, Esther Lederberg left an indelible mark in the field of microbiology she was the first individual to isolate the bacterial virus lambda phage. Additionally, her observations of the bacteriophage in agar solution led to an understanding of specialized transduction. Another one of Lederberg’s discoveries was replica plating. While there were many existing ways to reproduce bacterial colonies, she found the most efficient method. Interestingly enough, it came from a very simple, but ingenious idea. Around the same time, Esther Lederberg made yet another significant discovery. She recognized the bacterial fertility factor (factor F) and its role in DNA replication. In the academic world, working with Joshua Lederberg was both a blessing and a curse for Esther Lederberg. Accessing labs through her husband opened doors that made many of her discoveries possible. As he was a senior researcher and professor, he had access to equipment that Esther Lederberg, as a woman, was not able to use. But that was where the benefits stopped. As long as she was Mrs. Lederberg, Esther’s success in science would be credited to her husband.

She lived in an environment where women were expected to live in the shadow of their husbands. Joshua Lederberg did not give Esther Lederberg the acknowledgment she deserved. When Joshua Lederberg won the Nobel Prize for the work he and his wife had done together, including replica plating as well the bacterial fertility factor F, her name was not mentioned once in the prize. Joshua Lederberg admitted that his wife did deserve recognition for her contributions: yet he did not include her in any of his acceptance speeches. This unjust treatment would continue throughout all of Esther Lederberg’s career.

All these things show how Esther compromised in her life without receiving any sought of credit but she gave her best to contribute to society. We should have proud of the females of the world who contributed not for appreciation but development.

There has been a lot of contribution from women in STEM for many years but they haven't received enough recognition and awards for their work but we feel very honored to say that the time has changed from the last few years and women are getting their share of appreciation and respect for their impactful work, some of them are mentioned above.

Women have increasingly taken top positions and strived for more advancement.

There is certainly much room for more contributions, but we can look forward confidently to the future, secure in the knowledge that women all over the world are striving for betterment and contributing their part. These eminent women of all time act as role models for the younger generation to contribute more and give power to each one of us on the occasion of "Women's Equality Day".

The time is long overdue to encourage more women to dream the possible dream”. – Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook