From the Web: Women Cracked Wartime Codes. They Can Fix Tech Today, Too.


Female coders’ contribution to ending World War II has gone long unappreciated, but Liza Mundy’s Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II brings to the forefront the stories of codebreaking heroines who helped win the war, such as Ann Caracristi, Genevieve Grotjan and Grace Hopper.

In Liza’s New York Times’ article “Women Cracked Wartime Codes. They Can Fix Tech Today, Too”, she delves into the importance of inclusion in computer programming and other STEM-related careers, attributing the end of WWII to the welcoming of diversity and inclusivity. When the military needed to quickly fill a large number of factory, radio, chemistry and computer programming positions, they turned to a previously untapped resource: women. Although allowing females to take on these STEM roles was seen as a temporary emergency measure, there is more than sufficient evidence that it changed the course of the war. Ann Caracristi, for example, broke the Japanese code and pinpointed their exact location for our troops, while Genevieve Grotjan figured out the cipher-generating machine used by Japanese diplomats.

However, since the late 1940s, there hasn’t been much improvement in increasing female representation in the STEM field. Today, women only make up a little more than one-quarter of the STEM workforce, according to the National Science Board. However, with computer occupations expected to grow by almost half a million new jobs by 2024 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016), there will be plenty of availability for women, but is there plenty of opportunity? Liza Mundy says there are still mental barriers for females in STEM to overcome, specifically regarding engineering and computer positions. However, as her article and novel state, there have been many brilliant, strong women paving the way for future female scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, and it’s our job as mentors, educators and women to continue that path for future generations.

Read Liza Mundy’s New York Times article here: Women Cracked Wartime Codes. They Can Fix Tech Today, Too 


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