Inspiring Quotes from 10 Influential Women in Tech
1. “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”
— Rear Admiral Grace Hopper (pictured), the U.S. Navy’s oldest active-duty officer at the time of her retirement, developer of the first compiler for a computer programming language, developer of UNIVAC I and COBOL, and coiner of the terms “computer bug” and “debugging.”
2. “I was told I'd never make it to VP rank because I was too outspoken. Maybe so, but I think men will always find an excuse for keeping women in their 'place.' So, let's make that place the executive suite and start more of our own companies.”
— Jean Bartik, one of the first programmers of the ENIAC; she later went on to work with BINAC and UNIVAC I computers, then became one of the early editors of computer information publishing at Auerbach Publishers, Data Decisions, and McGraw-Hill.
3. “I was a bit of an artist, and somewhere along the way had gotten the idea that computers could be used for animation and artists, because in-betweening was so tedious. . . Of course, everyone thought I was nuts.”
— Carla Meninsky, engineer for Atari, who coded Atari 2600 games Warlords, Dodge ‘Em, and Star Raiders.
4. “We accepted education as the means to rise above the limitations that a prejudiced society endeavored to place upon us.”
— Evelyn Boyd Granville, one of the first black women in the U.S. to earn a PhD in Mathematics, and later, an analyist and developer in IBM for Project Vanguard and Project Mercury, which she called “the most interesting job of [her] lifetime.”
5. “[T]he world would be a better place if more engineers, like me, hated technology. The stuff I design, if I’m successful, nobody will ever notice. Things will just work, and be self-managing.”
— Radia Pearlman, “the Mother of the Internet,” IEEE fellow, inventor of Spanning-Tree Protocol (STP), TRILL, and TORTIS, a programming language for children.
6. “Most engineers like to proceed from A to B to C in a series of logical steps. I'm the rare engineer who says the answer is obviously Z and we will get on with that while you guys work out how to do all the intermediate steps. It makes me a dangerous person to employ in IT but a useful one."
— Sophie Wilson, designer of the Acorn Micro-Computer and BBC Micro, BBC BASIC programming language, and the ARM (Acorn RISC Machine), a foundational technology for handheld computing devices.
7. “ I designed the executive program for handling situations when there are too many calls, to keep it operating efficiently without hanging up on itself. Basically it was designed to keep the machine from throwing up its hands and going berserk.”
— Erna Schneider Hoover on her revolutionary computerized telephone switching method for Bell Laboratories. Hoover was awarded one of the earliest software patents and became the first female supervisor of any technical department at Bell, cementing her place as a pioneer in modern communications technology.
8. “Any girl can be glamorous. All she has to do is stand still and look stupid.”
— Hedy Lamarr, “the most beautiful woman in Europe,” Hollywood “Golden Age” actress, and co-developer of a frequency-hopping/spread spectrum technology based on a player piano. Lamarr never earned a penny from her patent; after her patent expired, the technology was used in guided torpedoes by the U.S. Navy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
9. "I think it's very important to get more women into computing. My slogan is: Computing is too important to be left to men."
— Karen Spärck Jones, Professor of Computers and Information at Cambridge Computer Laboratory. Spärck Jones was a vocal advocate for women in computing and technology; she introduced the concept of inverse document frequency (IDF) used by most search engines today.
10. “If I am remembered at all, I would like to be remembered as my family storyteller. It has been a great life.”
— Kay McNulty Mauchly Antonelli, who is remembered as one of the original six female programmers of ENIAC, software designer for BINAC and UNIVAC I, and wife of John Mauchly, co-inventor of the ENIAC and UNIVAC I.