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International Women's Day: Margaret Hamilton, software pioneer.

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At sales-i, we believe a diverse workforce is a future-proof workforce. Building a team that helps deliver for our customers means having voices from across society at the table, sharing their ideas.  

This International Women's Day we wanted to celebrate one of the great pioneers of the tech industry. You probably know all about NASA’s Apollo space programme. And you know Neil Armstrong was the first person to step out on to the moon.  

Of course, Neil, and the crew of Apollo 11 didn’t just dream up a mission and get themselves there. They worked with some of the smartest scientific minds around to help deliver them safely to the Moon.

Margaret Hamilton was the lead software engineer on the program before even the title 'software engineer’ was coined (she had to come up with the term so that other engineers would take her team seriously). As she said in an interview; “There was no field for software engineering. You were on your own. Knowledge or lack thereof, was passed down from person to person.” source: computer.org  

While on the Apollo program Margaret’s team developed the software for the two onboard computers, one on the lunar module, Eagle and the other on the command module, Columbia.  

“Astronauts’ lives were at stake. Our software needed to be ultra-reliable, and it needed to be able to detect an error and recover from it at any time during the mission. And it all had to fit on the hardware.” - Margaret Hamilton.

 

During her long career, she developed software for predicting the weather, contributed to the mathematics behind chaos theory and worked on software to detect enemy planes, for the U.S. Air Force.  

Her advice to any young women wanting to get started in the software industry. “Don’t let fear get in the way and don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t understand” – no question is a dumb question. And don’t always listen to the so-called experts!” source: Guardian 

We're always looking for people who want to develop a career in the software industry and make a difference in the world. If you want to find out more, take a look at our careers page 

Read more on diversity at sales-i  

 

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