As a computer programming legend, Admiral Grace Hopper is a name that many software developers, in particular female software developers will know.
Responsible for inventing the first compiler and standardising verbal computer programming languages, Admiral Grace Hopper made technology more accessible and user-friendly for both government and private sector applications.
Grace’s most notable achievements and innovations, as well as her dedication to mentorship of young people in the field of technology continues to transform lives today. But there is more than just her computing legacy that makes Grace an inspirational figure in technology. In honour of ‘International Day of Women in Science’ we share our most notable lessons that we can learn from this pioneer.
Grace’s mother was noted with saying that her daughter was “born with curiosity” and it is this curiosity and willingness to experiment with new things that allowed her to be a key player in the birth of the computer industry. Grace’s love of math and general curiosity that lead her on the path to take on a ‘secret project’ with Howard Aiken, which then saw her developing the first computer “compiler” and then go on to lead the team that invented COBOL.
Known as someone who didn’t take no for an answer Grace was known for regrouping and looking for other ways to keep moving forward. In her view ‘no’ only really meant just not right now. There is a lesson to be learnt from Grace’s attitude here, often we take ‘no’ as a final answer, but if we reassess and preserve you can come out on top.
Believe In Yourself
When Grace was born, the opportunities available to women within society were limited- women didn’t even have the right to vote. However, her family instilled a spirit and a belief that whatever her brother could do, she could do also. It was with this mindset that helped her be successful. Despite being originally knocked back by the Navy, Grace endeavoured and found a way around it so that she would be enlisted, and the rest is history!
Mentor The Next Generation
Grace was always a lover of supporting and mentoring young people. She most notably said: “The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, ‘Do you think we can do this?’ I say, ‘Try it.’ And I back ’em up.” Her legacy continues with the Grace Hopper programme, which was set up in 2016 to bridge the gender pay gap in the world of tech and she also has a wing dedicated in her name at Yale University.