International Women’s day hero: Grace Hopper


2782902040_8eda609f06_oTo celebrate International Womens’ Day for 2016, I thought I’d share my personal hero: Rear Admiral Grace Hopper

Grace Hopper is one of the most influential people in the history of the computing world. She was one of the first computer programmers, she is known as the mother of the modern compiler (the program that translates code we can read into code the computer understands), given credit for the term “computer bug” after a moth shorted out the Mark II computer she was working on and was part of the team that developed the COBOL programming language – to this day one of the most prevalent software languages of all time. Google now hosts a yearly, International Women in Computing conference in her name.

The reason why Grace Hopper is my hero is not that she made it against all the odds in two male dominated areas – computer science and the American navy – but that she was a radical thinker and problem solver. Famous quotes from Grace hopper include:

The most dangerous phrase in the language is, “We’ve always done it this way.”

A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for.

It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.

My motivation, as a researcher and educator is to not just do things the way we always have, to try new ways, and to just get in and do it. There’s no better way to know if something will work, than to try it out, and that’s part of what the Maker movement is all about.

One final thing to leave you on, is that she also 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. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.

And that underpins our strategy as Maker Workshop, we want to train, empower, support and release everyone to be makers – and from time to time stir everyone up with the latest and greatest tech and maker tools.