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Amazing Grace: Grace Hopper’s Life and Legacy

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper certainly earned her nickname “Amazing Grace.” She was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale, and she joined the U.S. Naval Reserve during WWII to work on the Mark I computer. She also helped create the first compiler for computer languages and was the first woman to receive the National Medal of Technology in 1991. She continues to be recognized as one of the most influential tech pioneers in history.

To commemorate her contributions to the field of computing, Grace Hopper was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 22, 2016. “The Presidential Medal of Freedom is not just our nation’s highest civilian honor. It’s a tribute to the idea that all of us, no matter where we come from, have the opportunity to change this country for the better,” stated President Barack Obama.

Grace’s legacy is further honored through Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC). Co-founded by Dr. Anita Borg and Dr. Telle Whitney in 1994, this annual three-day conference brings together women technologists from across the globe, celebrates their achievements, and provides them with the resources and support they need to succeed.

GHC has since become the largest gathering of women technologists in the world, growing from 500 attendees in 1994 to 15,000 attendees in 2016. Past GHC speakers include Megan Smith, the first female Chief Technology Officer of the United States, and Latanya Sweeney, the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. in computer science at MIT. Just like Grace, these tech pioneers prove to young female technologists everywhere that boundaries can indeed be broken.

Watch the GHC 16 Opening Video below to learn more about how GHC honors Grace Hopper’s life and legacy. Happy 110th Birthday, Amazing Grace!