Written by Kevin Heisey
on March 15, 2022

At xScion we’re commemorating Women’s History Month by highlighting women technology pioneers who embody our values:

Be the Value: Provide impactful change to our clients and team.

Be Ahead of the Curve: Learn continuously.

Be Present: Focus on true work-life balance

Be You: Celebrate your uniqueness as differences make us better


Be the Value: Provide impactful change to clients and teams

As director of the Network Information Systems Center at the Stanford Research Institute in the 1970s and 1980s, Elizabeth “Jake” Feinler and her team managed the Network Information Center for ARPANET and the Defense Data Network, early forerunners of today’s internet.

Her team developed the first query-based network hostname and address server, an early model for email systems and the .com, .edu, .org, .gov etc. domain naming protocol in use today. She certainly delivered for her client, the US Department of Defense, and changed the world by providing the initial versions of search engines, email and the internet.


Be Ahead of the Curve: Learn continuously

Ada Lovelace, born in London in 1815, is considered the first computer programmer. Her parents, the poet Lord Byron and the mathematician Lady Byron, split when she was a baby. Her mother set her on a course of rigorous study of mathematics, music and French while trying to suppress her daughter’s imaginative qualities, which she considered a bad influence from her father’s side of the family.

Her educational training and place in society brought her in contact with numerous London scientific luminaries she used to further her learning. In 1833, she developed a working relationship with Charles Babbage who created the Analytical Engine, which calculated mathematical problems. Between 1842 and 1843 Lovelace wrote notes about the machine that included an algorithm that is considered the first computer program ever written.

Drawing on her diverse education, innate curiosity and imagination she was able to see beyond the pure number crunching capabilities of the Analytical Engine and wrote visionary notes about the relationship between individuals, society and technology.


Be Present: Focus on true work-life balance

Mary Allen Wilkes, is known for programming and operating the first home computer at her parents’ house in Baltimore in 1965. She had previously worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory and worked out of her parents’ home while contemplating whether she wanted to move to St. Louis and join her team at Washington University’s Computer Systems Laboratory. At MIT she worked on the LINC, the first minicomputer, and with Wesley A. Clark coauthored Programming with LINC and The LAP6 Handbook based on the operating systems and upgrades she wrote for the LINC.

Being able to operate a computer from home allowed Wilkes’ the flexibility to take time with family before deciding to move to St. Louis. She’s a pioneer of the work from home movement that gives us more flexibility to achieve work-life balance.


Be You: Celebrate your uniqueness as differences make us better

Evelyn Boyd Granville was the 2nd African American woman to receive a PhD in Mathematics from a United States university, earning hers from Yale in 1949. She grew up in Washington DC during the Great Depression and attended segregated schools. Her passion for mathematics, physics and astronomy led to her being honored as valedictorian at Dunbar High School, an academically oriented school geared toward sending their graduates to the top universities.

In 1955 she joined IBM where she wrote computer coding for the first mass produced computer, the IBM 650, and was part of a team of mathematicians working for NASA and the US space program. Her orbit calculations contributed to Project Vanguard, Project Mercury and Project Apollo, endeavors to launch the first satellite and humans into space and land the first humans on the moon.

From childhood, Granville was drawn to teaching and worked in academics both prior to and after her time at IBM. She mentored other black women mathematicians and is a strong proponent of the importance of a high-quality mathematics education for all students. She told Scientific American, “it never occurred to me to be the first. I just wanted to major in mathematics,” which embodies the spirit of “Be You.”