The inspiring stories of women who helped shape science and tech

A dedicated site hosts women connected to the White House telling their favourite stories of trailblazing women in science and technology.

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Ruth Lichterman (left) and Marlyn Wescoff, two of the six women who programmed ENIAC, the first fully electronic computer, in the 1940s. U.S. Army Photo

Grace Hopper. Sally Ride. Ada Lovelace. Katherine Johnson. You may know their names, but do you know what they contributed to history? Do you know who they were, the context of their times, and how they came to be some of the most important women in the histories of science and technology?

It's not, in fact, true that technology has always been male-dominated. In fact, up until around the mid-1980s, the number of women in computing was on the rise. The sharp drop from 1984 has been attributed to marketing -- so perhaps it's marketing that can bring women back.

The White House has launched a website that aims to increase the visibility of women's place in the history of technology. The Untold History of Women in Science and Technology aims to attract more young women into STEM fields by sharing the stories of female trailblazers in those fields.

"They were leaders in building the early foundation of modern programming and unveiled the structure of DNA. Their work inspired environmental movements and led to the discovery of new genes. They broke the sound barrier -- and gender barriers along the way," the website reads. "And inspiring more young women to pursue careers in science starts with simply sharing their stories."

The stories of the women mentioned above -- and more -- are narrated by women in STEM in the White House Administration: US Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith, NASA Chief Scientist Dr Ellen Stofan, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and White House OSTP Associate Director for Science Jo Handelsman.

Each story isn't very long -- around a minute -- but it provides a brief background into each of the women showcased, and enough information that you know who they were and what they did -- allowing you to go off and conduct further research on your own.

The bottom of the page also invites women currently working in STEM to share their own stories in order to inspire young women, with the stories to be shared across White House channels.

"You don't have to be a Nobel Prize winner to inspire someone to pursue a career in science and technology," it reads. "There are millions more untold stories of women who have broken down barriers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math -- and accounting for the rich history of women's contributions in these fields is going to take all of us telling them. Maybe it's a former teacher. Maybe it's your grandmother. Maybe it's you."

Head over to the Women in STEM web page to listen to the stories -- and to share your own.

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