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Women crunch numbers, too. Like Barbara Liskov.

Think you can't survive without your computer? The Internet? The blogosphere? Me too. It's easy for me (and for many of us, I think) to forget about the brains, number crunching, and rigorous research that enable us to post blog entries, read the NY Times online, or shop for shoes with just the click of a mouse.

For many of these advancements, we can thank Barbara Liskov who just won the 2008 A.M. Turing award, known in technology circles as "the Nobel Prize in computing."

A veteran MIT professor who created building blocks for software programming languages that were key to personal computers and the Internet, Liskov helped pioneer what is known as object-oriented programming, now the most common approach to software development. She is credited for laying the groundwork for the development of sophisticated programs tailored to financial, medical, and other consumer and business applications.

As I learned this morning from my co-worker, Ari, Liskov is one of many women - and several Jewish women - who are renowned computer scientists; her work builds upon that of Adele Goldberg who co-wrote Small Talk, the first computer language to popularize object-oriented programming. Pretty cool.

There's still the pervasive myth that women just don't do math or science (when my mother was a college student in the early 1970s and declared a major in Math, her Dean said: "women don't major in Math at this university; choose another major."). It's worth wondering why this myth is still so alive when, for years, there have been so many women at the forefront of their math/science fields - Gertrude Elion, Margarete Zuelzer, Elsa Neumann, Ruth Arnon and so many others.

Mazel Tov, Barbara Liskov and the extraordinary women whose number-crunching achievements too often go unrecognized.

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1 Comment

Congratulations to Barbara Liskov! By the way, thanks for mentioning Adele Goldberg too. I had no idea that a woman helped invent SmallTalk. Cool.

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How to cite this page

Namerow, Jordan. "Women crunch numbers, too. Like Barbara Liskov.." 12 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on March 23, 2019) <https://jwa.org/blog/barbara-liskov>.


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