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WoW Blog (Woman of the Week)

Each week this blog will feature a prominent woman who made significant contributions to engineering or science. If you have any women you'd like us to feature please let us know and we'll do our best to include them.

Do you know of a great woman in engineering that should be recognized? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add her to the blog. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

Woman of the Week – Gertrude Jekyll

Posted April 16, 2018 4:30 PM by lmno24

Gertrude Jekyll was a British horticulturist, writer, garden designer and artist from London, England.

She designed and created over 400 gardens in the UK, Europe and United States and wrote hundreds of articles on the topic.

She was born to a family that valued the arts and fostering a creative spirit. In 1848, her family left London and moved to Bramley House, Surrey, where she spent her formative years.

Her first love was painting, until she began to lose her sight and she decided to try her hand at gardening.

She was drawn to simple designs but also the organized chaos of cottage style designs. She became one of the biggest influences in the Arts and Crafts movement due to her work with English architect Edwin Lutyens.

Her designs were known for having hefty flower borders and radiant colors. It is said that her gardens looked like “real life” Impressionist paintings.

As she got more into gardening, she decided she wanted to learn more about the plants themselves. She studied horticulture to enhance her work further and to make the spaces functional and long lasting. The skeletons of some of her 400-plus gardens are still around today.

Later in life, Jekyll collected and contributed a vast array of plants solely for the purpose of preservation to numerous institutions across Britain. Jekyll was also known for her many writings. She wrote over fifteen books, ranging from Wood and Garden and her most famous book Colour in the Flower Garden, to memoirs of her youth.

She never married and had no children. She died at age 89 in 1932.

To view some of her gardens, see these galleries.

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Woman of the Week - Barbara Liskov

Posted April 09, 2018 4:30 PM by lmno24

Barbara Liskov is an American computer scientist and one of the first women to be granted a doctorate in computer science in the United States.

Liskov grew up in California as the oldest of four children. She earned her B.S. in mathematics with a minor in physics at the University of California, Berkeley in 1961. She was one of the only women in her classes. Once she earned her B.S., she applied to the graduate mathematics programs at both Berkeley and Princeton – even though Princeton did not accept women at the time.

She was accepted got into Berkeley but instead made the decision to move to Boston and began working at the Mitre Corporation. It was there that she became interested in computers and programming. She worked at Mitre for one year before taking a programming job at Harvard where she worked on language translation.

Source: MIT

After being in the working world for a while, she decided to go back to school. This time, she applied to Berkeley, Stanford and Harvard. She enrolled at Stanford and graduated in 1968 with a computer science doctorate. She was one of the first women do earn this type of degree. Her Ph.D thesis consisted of a computer program playing chess endgames, inspired by her time at the Mitre Corporation.

She chose Stanford and by 1968, she became one of the first women to earn a computer science doctorate from Stanford University. The topic of her Ph.D. thesis was a computer program to play chess endgames.

After earning her Ph.D, she returned to Mitre. She worked as a researcher and created the “Venus Computer,” which supported the construction of complex software. It was compact, inexpensive and had an interactive timesharing system.

After graduating from Stanford, Liskov returned to Mitre to work as research staff. Using an Interdata 3 computer that had the ability to change the instruction set via microcode, she created the “Venus Computer.”. It was tailored to supporting the construction of complex software. The operating system was a small, low-cost and interactive timesharing system used to experiment with how different architectures helped or hindered this process. The Venus system supported 16 teletypes and each user was connected to a virtual machine so that major errors would not compromise the entire system, only the virtual machine for that user.

Two of her most significant projects was the creation of Argus, the first high-level language to support the implementation of distributed programs and to demonstrate the technique of promise pipelining;, and Thor, an object-oriented database system. Along with her colleague Jeannette Wing, she developed a particular definition of subtyping, commonly known as the Liskov substitution principle.

Argus provided object abstractions called “guardians” that encapsulate related procedures. As an experimental language, Argus influenced others developers but was never widely adopted or used for deployed networked applications, according to the website for the A.M. Turing award.

Liskov is currently the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT. She leads the Programming Methodology Group at MIT, with a current research focus in Byzantine fault tolerance and distributed computing. She became a full professor at MIT in 1980. She served as the Associate Head for Computer Science from 2001 to 2004, and in 2007 was appointed Associate Provost for Faculty Equity. In 2008, MIT named her an Institute Professor, the highest honor awarded to an MIT faculty member.

She has won numerous awards, including the IEEE John von Neumann Medal (2004) and the A. M. Turing Award (2008).

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Woman of the Week – Ida Barney

Posted March 26, 2018 4:30 PM by lmno24

Ida Barney was an American astronomer, best known for her 22 volumes of astrometric measurements on 150,000 stars.

She was born in 1886 in New Haven, Connecticut. Her mother was Ida Bushnell Barney and her father was Samuel Eben Barney. She was an avid birder and the New Haven Bird Club President.

She was educated at Smith College and Yale University and spent most of her career at the Yale University Observatory.

From 1911–1912, just after receiving her Ph.D., Barney became a mathematics professor for Rollins College.

For the next few years, she had teaching gigs at various somen’s colleges (Rollins, Smith, Lake Erie, and Meredith Colleges).

In 1920, she returned to Smith College as an assistant professor. In 1922, Yale University Observatory appointed Barney as a Research Assistant, a title she held until 1949, when she was promoted to Research Associate.

The Observatory, like many other university observatories at the time, was allocating significant resources to astrometry, thanks to the development of telescope-mounted cameras.

Early in her astronomy career, under Frank Schlesinger, the Director at the Yale Observatory, her main task was plotting the position of stars from photographic plates and working on the calculations of their celestial coordinates from their positions. The work was very tedious, which Schlesinger felt was appropriate for a woman to do because it wasn’t theoretical research.

After coming to Yale, Schlesinger started a group called The Neighbors, which was for astronomers from the New England area. They met informally a few times a year to discuss ideas. Eventually professional women hailing from New England wanted to join, on which he commented, "Oh, the opening wedge!" expressing the opinion that admitting women would constitute "imposing a burden on hosts.”

Despite her boss’s feelings toward women’s success, she developed several methods that increased both the accuracy and speed of her measurements, including the use of a machine that automatically centered the photographic plates.

She continued the project, which eventually became her life’s work and most notable accomplishments.

Over 23 years, she contributed to the Yale Observatory Zone Catalog, a series of star catalogs published by the Yale Observatory for 1939 to 1983, containing around 400,000 stars, and influenced the Bright Star Catalogue.

In 1941, when Schlesinger retired, Barney took over full supervision of the cataloguing. Under her direction, the measurements of the photographic plates were completed at the IBM Watson Scientific Laboratory using a new electronic device that further reduced eye strain and increased accuracy.

Her individual contribution to these star catalogues recorded the position, magnitude, and proper motion of approximately 150,000 stars. Due to its high accuracy, the catalogue is still used today in proper motion studies. After her retirement from Yale, she continued to live in New Haven, where she died in 1982 at 95.


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Woman of the Week – Zaha Hadid

Posted March 19, 2018 4:30 PM by lmno24

Zaha Hadid was an Iraqi-British architect known for her daring architectural designs and was often described as “Queen of the Curve” for her buildings.

She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, architecture’s version of the Nobel Prize. She received the U.K.'s most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, she was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture, and in 2015 she became the first and only woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

She was born in Baghdad, Iraq. Her father Muhammad al-Hajj Husayn Hadid was a wealthy industrialist. Her mother Wajiha al-Sabunji was an artist, while her brother Foulath Hadid was a writer, accountant and expert on Arab affairs.

Source: Zaha Hadid Architects

Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London in her early twenties to attend the Architectural Association (AA) School where she earned the Diploma Prize. Her former professor, Koolhaas[HK1] , described her at graduation as "a planet in her own orbit."

She went on to teach at the AA School and held numerous seats and guest lecturer spots around the world.

She earned her early reputation with her lecturing and colorful, radical designs and projects, which were often published in architectural journals but remain unbuilt for the most part.

Her ambitious-but-unbuilt projects included a plan for Peak in Hong Kong (1983) and a plan for an opera house in Cardiff, Wales, (1994). The competition jury chose her design as the best, but the Welsh government refused to pay for it, and the commission was given to a different and less ambitious architect.

She founded Zaha Hadid Architects in 1979 based out of London, which is still in operation today.

She often stirred up as much controversy as she won admiration. A $250 million cultural center in Baku, Azerbaijan, forced the eviction of families from the site and caused protests from human rights activists.

She was commissioned to design a stadium in Qatar, the design of which some likened to a certain part of the female anatomy, which became a source of controversy for the treatment of government workers there — nothing directly related to her design though. She sued one critic who falsely reported that 1,000 workers had died building her stadium before construction had even begun. She won a settlement and an apology.

After winning the competition to design a new stadium for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, her firm was fired by Japanese authorities over accusations about looming cost overruns, which Hadid loudly declared unjust and political.

She passed away on March 31st, 2016 from a heart attack after being admitted to the hospital for bronchitis.

Some of her most notable works are pictured on her Wikipedia page.

[HK1]Does this guy/gal go by a single name, a la Madonna? If not, please provide in full.

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Woman of the Week – Anita Borg

Posted March 12, 2018 4:30 PM by lmno24

Dr. Anita Borg (1949–2003) was an American computer scientist and founded the Institute for Women and Technology and the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.

Born Anita Borg Naffz on January 17, 1949, in Chicago, Illinois, she grew up in Palatine, Illinois; Kaneohe, Hawaii; and Mukilteo, Washington. Although she loved math while growing up, she did not originally intend to go into computer science. She taught herself to program while working at a small insurance company. She was awarded a PhD in Computer Science by New York University in 1981 for research investigating the synchronization efficiency of operating systems supervised by Robert Dewar and Gerald Belpaire.


In 1986, she began working for Digital Equipment Corporation, first at the Western Research Laboratory. While there, she developed and patented a method for generating complete address traces for analyzing and designing high-speed memory systems.

In 1987, Borg founded Systers, an online community, with 12 fellow women technologists. She wanted this project to provide a space for women to discuss about issues they experienced at work and share resources with each other. To this day, Systers offers a closed-network, safe community for women technologists.

In 1994, Anita co-founded the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC) with Dr. Telle Whitney, former President and CEO of This was inspired by the legacy of Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. The two were tired of attending conferences with almost no other women so they created the celebration to offer women the chance to improve their technical skills and connect with each other.

In 1997, Borg left Digital Equipment Corporation and began working as a researcher in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at Xerox PARC.

Borg then went on to found the Institute for Women and Technology, which encompassed Systers and the Grace Hopper Celebration, and introduced new programs to work with organizations and individuals to address the gender gap. After Anita’s death in 2003, the organization was renamed The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. In 2017, it became

Anita received many honors for her important work in technology and advancing women in the field. In 1999, President Clinton appointed Anita to the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology. In 2002, she received the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy, and Employment. She was a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery and a member of the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association. In 1998–99, she served as a member of the National Academy of Engineering’s Committee for the Celebration of Women in Engineering which created the Summit on Women in Engineering in May 1999. She served on the National Research Council’s Committee on Women in Science and Engineering.

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