Coding the Future by Digging up the Past: How Unearthing Truths Set New Pop-Culture Standards

Kara M. Zone

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If you look around at new pop culture standards, there is a specific theme when it comes to women of the past. Their successes were hidden. It may have been by men, it may have been by corporations. There isn't a reason to point the fingers or lay blame on anyone anymore. However, it is safe to say that it was time to uproot the truth.

We can trace the path back to 1997, almost twenty years ago, and see that our media was not ripe with stories of women getting props for accomplishing fantastic feats, such as coding the first computer. That credit would have gone to men and men alone did get credit for it. In 1997, the team at WITI discovered that a group of women called ENIAC programmers, helped code the first computer back in the early forties and instead of getting credit for their accomplishment, they were told to hide away in the back room when the press came, they were also called secretaries. These women were mathematicians from prominent schools around the country and if it wasn't for their genius, technology wouldn't be the same. No longer are we being hit with the idea that women of the early twentieth century were only seeking marriage through college. These women have amazing minds and they weren't afraid to use them.

Thankfully pop culture has caught up with the stance WITI took in 1997. Women are now celebrated for the achievements they've made many years ago. For example, "Big Eyes" by Tim Burton is a movie about a woman who paints the pictures, while her husband takes the credit for it. It centers around her fight to change the rules in the 1960's. Also, "Top Secret Rosies" is an online campaign and documentary which tells the story of three mathematician women who helped create the computer code, ("The Computer wore Heels" is the companion book app) back in the 1920's. And, "The Imitation Game" with Keira Knightly which features Joan Clark, (another mathematician) at the center of WWII helping a room full of men crack the code to end the war.

When WITI celebrated the ENIAC programmers it opened up a new doorway that other women could walk through and say "Look at me, look at what I've accomplished!" with pride. 1997 represented so much more than just the unearthing of a grand government secret, it was a movement that was well needed within America. Not only were the women of the ENIAC programmers represented, but so many other fantastic role models were given a chance to have their skills recognized in a community where they would not be downplayed, second guessed or questioned. Read Below to find out more of what these women have accomplished and help WITI celebrate 25 years of the WITI Hall of Fame.

Click the links below to learn more about the 1997 WITI Hall of Fame Women, hear their full stories and see their inductee videos.

ENIAC Programmers: Kathleen McNulty, Mauchly Antonelli, Jean Jennings Bartik, Frances Synder Holber, Marlyn Wescoff Meltzer, Frances Bilas Spence and Ruth Lichterman Teitelbaum
YouTube Video1, YouTube Video2, YouTube Video3, YouTube Video4, YouTube Video5, YouTube Video6.

Fran Allen: IBM Fellow, IBM
YouTube Video

Carol Bartz: Executive Chairman of the Board Autodesk
YouTube Video

Shuaunna F. Black: Vice President Texas Instruments
YouTube Video

Pamela Meyer Lopker: President and Chairman of the Board, QAD
YouTube Video

Marcia Neugebauer: Distinguished visiting scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory
YouTube Video

Donna Shirley: Retired, Manager, Mars Exploration Program
YouTube Video

Patty Stonesifer: Chief Executive officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
YouTube Video

Patricia M. Wallington: President, CIO Associates Sarasota, Florida
YouTube Video

Rosalyn S. Yalow: Nobel Laureate.
YouTube Video

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