Most of the K-12 taught history of America seems to have been centered around men’s accomplishments, particularly politically, militarily, technologically and scientifically, or in the building of business empires. This has led to an unfortunate gap in my knowledge of the women’s history in the United States. However, due to my interest in computers and outer space as a child and adult, I was lucky enough to have had some exposure to some important women in American history.
For example, one figure from American history that has featured as a significant figure in computer science is Admiral Grace Hopper. She was a math professor in the 1930s who joined the military – the Navy I believe – and she developed some of the first compilers and linkers for the earliest large computers. Upon her retirement from the Navy, she joined private business such as the Rand corporation and computerized various operations and was instrumental in keeping code more open, helping move computing away from assembly language and into easier to use computer languages that used English words.
In firsts in the United States, Sally Ride was the first female American astronaut which encouraged many little girls of the time to embark on their own future careers in aerospace industry, who now credit her as inspiration.
A third and extremely significant historical figure US Women’s history is Susan B. Anthony. She helped present the case for voting rights for women in the 19th century with a result that would not come until 1920 with the passing of the 19th Amendment granting (white) women the right to vote in the USA.
There are a few other figures that come to mind, some more fitting for this study. However, these three are good examples of how limited my exposure to women’s history has been. They are notable for contributions to what are still considered primarily men’s fields; computer science, aeronautics and politics.