Women and Computers in WWII – Intermission Story (22)

GP Cox at Pacific Paratrooper highlights the role of women in World War II in the creation of the computers we see around us today. Let’s celebrate female historical (and present) contributions!

Pacific Paratrooper

Women with the ENIAC computer

Before the invention of electronic computers, “computer” was a job description, not a machine. Both men and women were employed as computers, but women were more prominent in the field. This was a matter of practicality more than equality. Women were hired because there was a large pool of women with training in mathematics, but they could be hired for much less money than men with comparable training. Despite this bias, some women overcame their inferior status and contributed to the invention of the first electronic computers.

In 1942, just after the United States entered World War II, hundreds of women were employed around the country as computers. Their job consisted of using mechanical desk calculators to solve long lists of equations. The results of these calculations were compiled into tables and published for use on the battlefields by gunnery officers. The tables allowed soldiers…

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16 thoughts on “Women and Computers in WWII – Intermission Story (22)

  1. Christy, have you seen the movie Hidden Figures, about African American women mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Civil Rights era? NASA staffers referred to them as “the colored computers.” Terrific film ♥

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