Image: Flickr user Amanda Schutz

Your best Saturday ever is just one day away! Tomorrow we’ll kick-off the 2013 Dare 2B Digital Conference at Oracle for a huge crowd of Bay Area girls, parents, mentors, educators and executives from Silicon Valley’s top companies.

What better way to celebrate a day exploring exciting careers in science, technology, engineering, math and business than to salute women throughout history who have paved the way for young women to dream big?

From agriculture to space flight, here are just a few women from a very long (and we mean very long) list of “#1” achievements that will inspire you to discover…to dream…and to “Dare 2B Digital“!

Who inspires you? Reply below to add your #1 woman to our list!

Radia Perlman – Regarded as the “Mother of the Internet,” Ms. Perlman was Sun Microsystems’s first female Fellow.

Caroline Herschel (1750 – 1848) – Turns out being called a “space cadet” isn’t a bad thing, not when you’re referring to Ms. Herschel. She’s the first woman to discover a comet (and the first British woman scientist to get paid for her work).

Amelia Earhart – First woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Dr. Sally K. Ride – The first American woman in space.

Computer scientist and visionary Grace Murray Hopper – distinguished not only as a US Navy Rear Admiral, but for innovating the first compiler for a computer programming language. She was the first woman IEEE Fellow (1962) and the first American and first woman named (in 1973) as a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society.

Chemist Barbara Askins – Awarded National Inventor of the Year in 1978 for discovering a new way to develop film while working at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Susan Kare – Ever wonder where the “Happy Mac” and trash can icons were born? Susan was the brains behind them working with Steve Jobs at Apple!

Lillian Gilbreth – First woman engineer elected to National Academy of Engineering.

Lettie Pate Whitehead – The first American woman appointed as director of a large corporation (The Coca-Cola Company).

Mary Anderson – Inventor behind modern-day windshield wipers (she patented the “car-window cleaning device” in 1903).

Barbara Liskov – First American woman awarded a Ph.D. from a computer science department. Ms. Liskov is credited with the invention of CLU, a programming language that helped lay the foundation for object-oriented programming.

Stephanie Kwolek – Invented Kevlar.

Mary Kies – First woman to receive a patent for developing a way to weave straw with silk.

Ellen Ochoa – First Hispanic woman in space.

Sarah E. Goode – First African-American woman to earn a patent (for turning a bed into a cabinet).

Mae Jemison – First African American woman astronaut (1987).


Frances E. Allen – First female IBM Fellow.

Betsy Ancker-Johnson – First to observe a “microwave emission without the presence of an external field.” (1967)

Helen Grenier – Invented the Roomba® robot vacuum. The technology behind iRobot is now used across many industries.

Dr. Maria Telkes – A pioneer in solar, Dr. Telkes created the first residential solar heating system among other patented devices.

IBM Fellow Irene Greif – First woman to earn a PhD in computer science at MIT.

Augusta Ada King (Countess of Lovelace) – Considered the first computer programmer and widely regarded as an early computing pioneer for her work documenting Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine.

Euphemia Lofton Haynes – First African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics.

Anousheh Ansari – First Iranian in space.

Erna Schneider Hoover – First female supervisor of a technical department at Bell Labs.

Padmasree Warrior – Motorola’s 1st female executive.

Marissa Mayer –  First female engineer at Google.

Dr. Erna Hoover – A telephony pioneer, here’s how Dr. Hoover described her invention to the New Jersey Star-Ledger: “I designed the executive program for handling situations when there are too many calls, to keep it operating efficiently without hanging up on itself. Basically it was designed to keep the machine from throwing up its hands and going berserk.”

Duy-Loan Le – First woman and first Asian-American Senior Fellow at Texas Instruments.

Mary Somerville (1780 – 1872) – Ms. Somerville and Caroline Herschel (above) were the first two women named honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Maria Mitchell (1818 – 1889) – First woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Emmy Noether – According to Smithsonian’s blog, “she developed many of the mathematical foundations for Einstein’s general theory of relativity and made significant advances in the field of algebra.” In a letter to the New York Times (1935), Albert Einstein lauded Noether as “the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.”


Hypatia (born in Alexandria, Egypt in A.D. 355) – The first woman in Mathematics with significant contributions that were documented. She was inventor of the hydroscope, an instrument that measures measure the gravity of liquids.


Gabriele Diamanti – Designed a solar distiller for remote, third-world regions lacking fresh water.

Josephine Cochrane – Earned patent for the first working dishwasher.

By Joanna Rustin, a Dare 2B Digital sponsor who’s day job is bringing to life the companies and entrepreneurs behind the most innovative technologies.

Image: Flickr user Amanda Schutz


Smithsonian blog:

Anita Borg Institute website:

Famous Firsts by American Women, 1901–Present —

Famous Firsts by American Women, 1587–1900 —