Womens Engineering Society: Inspiring women as engineers, scientists and technical leaders

Role Models

Grace Hopper

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Grace Hopper


Born in New York City, Grace Hopper was a pioneer in the computer science field. She was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 1 computer and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. Her conceptualisation of machine-independent programming led to her creating the COBOL programming language specification.


She attended Vassar College from the age of 17 and graduated with a bachelors degree in mathematics and physics when she was 22. She then pursued a graduate education at Yale, where she received a masters in the same subjects in 1930. Four years later, she earned a PhD in mathematics whilst teaching on the subject, eventually becoming an associate professor.

Naval Service

Hopper, in 1943, volunteered to the United States Navy Reserve. She graduated at the top of her class and was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University with the rank of Lieutenant. She continued to work at the Harvard Computation Lab, turning down full professorship at Vassar, until 1949 when she began work with Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. Here she worked as a senior mathematician and worked on her computer compiler.

Find out more about Grace Hopper and her awards and achievements.

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