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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.

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15 Powerful Quotes From Margaret Atwood
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images
MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images

It turns out the woman behind such eerily prescient novels as The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake is just as wise as her tales are haunting. Here are 15 of the most profound quips from author, activist, and Twitter enthusiast Margaret Atwood, who was born on this day in 1939.

1. On her personal philosophy

 “Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

2. On the reality of being female

“Men often ask me, Why are your female characters so paranoid? It’s not paranoia. It’s recognition of their situation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

3. On limiting how her politics influence her characters

“You know the myth: Everybody had to fit into Procrustes’ bed and if they didn’t, he either stretched them or cut off their feet. I’m not interested in cutting the feet off my characters or stretching them to make them fit my certain point of view.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

4. On so-called “pretty” works of literature

“I don’t know whether there are any really pretty novels … All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that’s the novelists’ material. … We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.”

— From a 2010 interview with The Progressive

5. On the artist’s relationship with her fans

“The artist doesn’t necessarily communicate. The artist evokes … [It] actually doesn’t matter what I feel. What matters is how the art makes you feel.”

— From a 2004 interview with The Guardian

6. On the challenges of writing non-fiction

“When I was young I believed that ‘nonfiction’ meant ‘true.’ But you read a history written in, say, 1920 and a history of the same events written in 1995 and they’re very different. There may not be one Truth—there may be several truths—but saying that is not to say that reality doesn’t exist.”

— From a 1997 interview with Mother Jones

7. On poetry

“The genesis of a poem for me is usually a cluster of words. The only good metaphor I can think of is a scientific one: dipping a thread into a supersaturated solution to induce crystal formation.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

8. On being labeled an icon

“All these things set a standard of behavior that you don’t necessarily wish to live up to. If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

9. On how we’re all born writers

“[Everyone] ‘writes’ in a way; that is, each person has a ‘story’—a personal narrative—which is constantly being replayed, revised, taken apart and put together again. The significant points in this narrative change as a person ages—what may have been tragedy at 20 is seen as comedy or nostalgia at 40.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

10. On the oppression at the center of The Handmaid's Tale

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here. Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.” 

— From a 2015 lecture to West Point cadets

11. On the discord between men and women

“‘Why do men feel threatened by women?’ I asked a male friend of mine. … ‘They’re afraid women will laugh at them,’ he said. ‘Undercut their world view.’ … Then I asked some women students in a poetry seminar I was giving, ‘Why do women feel threatened by men?’ ‘They’re afraid of being killed,’ they said.”

— From Atwood’s Second Words: Selected Critical Prose, 1960-1982

12. On the challenges of expressing oneself

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

— From a 1990 interview with The Paris Review

13. On selfies

“I say they should enjoy it while they can. You’ll be happy later to have taken pictures of yourself when you looked good. It’s human nature. And it does no good to puritanically say, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be doing that,’ because people do.”

— From a 2013 interview with The Telegraph

14. On the value of popular kids' series (à la Harry Potter and Percy Jackson)

"It put a lot of kids onto reading; it made reading cool. I’m sure a lot of later adult book clubs came out of that experience. Let people begin where they are rather than pretending that they’re something else, or feeling that they should be something else."

— From a 2014 interview with The Huffington Post

15. On why even the bleakest post-apocalyptic novels are, deep down, full of hope

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

— From a 2011 interview with The Atlantic 

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15 Empowering Quotes From Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton was born on November 12, 1815 and dedicated her life to progressing the women’s rights movement in America. She organized, she rallied, advocated, protested, wrote, and, most importantly, spoke. Here are just a few of the activist’s most powerful words.

1. ON THE LIFE OF FRIEND SUSAN B. ANTHONY

"To live for a principle, for the triumph of some reform by which all mankind are to be lifted up—to be wedded to an idea—may be, after all, the holiest and happiest of marriages."

— From The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony

2. ON HER HOPES FOR YOUNG WOMEN

“I would have girls regard themselves not as adjectives, but as nouns.”

— From an 1870 lecture called “Our Girls”

3. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF POLITICAL EQUALITY

“To throw obstacles in the way of a complete education is like putting out the eyes; to deny the rights of property is like cutting off the hands. To refuse political equality is to rob the ostracized of all self-respect, of credit in the market place, of recompense in the world of work, of a voice in choosing those who make and administer the law, a choice in the jury before whom they are tried, and in the judge who decides their punishment.”

— From “Solitude of Self

4. ON HOW THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE COULD USE AN EDIT

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”

— From "The Declaration of Rights and Sentiments"

5. ON THE CHANGING TIMES

“Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.”

— From The Woman’s Bible

6. ON TRUTH

“Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.”

— From The Woman’s Bible

7. ON KEEPING BUSY.

“In a word, I am always busy, which is perhaps the chief reason why I am always well.”

— From Stanton’s diaries

8. ON INDEPENDENCE

"Whatever the theories may be of woman's dependence on man, in the supreme moments of her life, he cannot bear her burdens. In the tragedies and triumphs of human experience, each mortal stands alone."

— From “Solitude of Self

9. ON GETTING OLDER

“... the hey-day of woman's life is on the shady side of fifty, when the vital forces heretofore expended in other ways are garnered in the brain …”

— From Elizabeth Cady Stanton as revealed in her letters, diary and reminiscences

10. ON COURAGE

“The best protection any woman can have ... is courage.”

— From Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: Fighting Together for Women's Rights

11. ON BETTERING ONESELF

“Put it down in capital letters: SELF-DEVELOPMENT IS A HIGHER DUTY THAN SELF-SACRIFICE. The thing that most retards and militates against women’s self development is self-sacrifice.”

— As told to a reporter, via In a Different Voice

12. ON THE BOSTON TEA PARTY

“It was just so in the American Revolution, in 1776, the first delicacy the men threw overboard in Boston harbor was the tea, woman's favorite beverage. The tobacco and whiskey, though heavily taxed, they clung to with the tenacity of the devil-fish.”

― From The Women’s Bible

13. ON HOW TO BECOME A BETTER PUBLIC SPEAKER

“Dress loose, take a great deal of exercise, and be particular about your diet and sleep sound enough, the body has a great effect on the mind.”

— As told to Susan B. Anthony

14. ON LIVING YOUR TRUTH

“The moment we begin to fear the opinions of others and hesitate to tell the truth that is in us, and from motives of policy are silent when we should speak, the divine floods of light and life no longer flow into our souls. Every truth we see is ours to give the world, not to keep for ourselves alone, for in so doing we cheat humanity out of their rights and check our own development.”

— From an 1890 speech to the National American Woman Suffrage Association

15. ON MOTHERHOOD

“We are, as a sex, infinitely superior to men, and if we were free and developed, healthy in body and mind, as we should be under natural conditions, our motherhood would be our glory. That function gives women such wisdom and power as no male can possess.”

— From Stanton’s letters

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