March 1st kicks off Women's History Month in the U.S., which was launched in 1987 as a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture, and society. To celebrate, we're highlighting women who were pioneers in the field of cybersecurity. 

Their contributions in the areas of coding, analysis, pattern matching, and computing laid the foundation for today's cyber defenses. These ladies were rocking code before the internet was invented.

Ada Lovelace - A mathematician, Lovelace collaborated with Charles Babbage in the 1830s to develop a steam-powered programmable computer known as the Analytical Engine. She is frequently cited as the world’s first conceptual computer programmer and credited with more lines of code written in languages she created than in C++, Java, JavaScript, and Python combined. The computer language Ada created on behalf of the United States Department of Defense, was named after Lovelace.

Williamina Fleming - In the late 1890s, Edward Pickering, director of the Harvard Observatory, handed volumes of astronomical observation data to Fleming, his housemaid, to catalog and number crunch. She went on to lead a team of over 80 women, a group of mathematicians known as the "Harvard Computers," who did the computations responsible for today's understanding of the universe. The group later performed complex, time-consuming calculations for the U.S military to plot ballistic trajectories, and programmed the ENIAC electrical computer to carry out the calculations.

Agnes Meyer Driscoll - Known as Madame X and referred to as the "first lady of naval cryptology", Driscoll served as the Director of Naval Communications in the Code and Signal Section for the U.S. Navy and became one of the first Naval Instructors in the field of cryptography. During WWI and WWII she led the decoding of Japanese ciphers and manuals for the U.S. Navy and later in her career served as a top consultant for the NSA.

Joan Clarke- A top British mathematician and codebreaker, Joan Clarke was recruited to the Government Code and Cypher School and worked at Bletchley Park where she pioneered techniques for breaking ciphers generated by German Enigma machines, eventually developing Alan Turing’s bombe technology to aid in deciphering complex encrypted messages.

Hedy Lamarr Actress Hedy Lamarr was also a self-taught inventor. She was awarded a patent in 1942 for designing, in collaboration with composer George Antheil, a system for radio frequency hopping to control torpedoes remotely without the risk of enemy signal tracking or jamming. This technology is the basis of the frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) technique used in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Lamarr was posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Grace Murray Hopper - The "grandmother of COBOL," Hopper is known for her trailblazing contribution to the development of computer languages and driving wide adoption of COBOL globally. She was one of the first three programmers writing code for IBM's Mark I electromechanical computer and wrote the 561-page user manual for the Mark I. As head programmer for Remington Rand she worked on the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC I), and her team developed the first computer language compiler. She helped standardize the Navy’s multiple computer languages, and when Hopper retired as a rear admiral at age 79, she was the oldest serving officer in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Katherine Johnson - A mathematician, Johnson started her career as a human computer at the West Area Computing unit of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' (NACA’s) Langley Research Center in the 1950’s. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to sending astronauts into orbit, including John Glenn, and the Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions. The West Area Computing Unit was depicted in the 2016 film, Hidden Figures.

Today's Women in Cyber

There are a number of factors contributing to the cybersecurity gender gap including disparities in STEM education, lack of role models, cultural bias and stereotypes. While the representation of women in cybersecurity has been historically low, it’s growing steadily. Today 25% of the world’s cybersecurity workers are women, up from 20% in 2022 and 10% in 2013, and this number is expected to reach 35% by 2031. With over 500,000 cybersecurity jobs to fill, businesses face a substantial labor shortage, which means more opportunity for women interested in a cyber career.

"We predict women will represent 30 percent of the global cybersecurity workforce by 2025, and that will reach 35 percent by 2031. This goes beyond securing corporate networks and includes IoT, IIoT and ICS security, and cybersecurity for medical, automotive, aviation, military defense, and other."

–Steve Morgan, founder of Cybersecurity Ventures and Editor-in-Chief at Cybercrime Magazine

For over a decade Security Innovation has been committed to cultivating a work environment based on diversity and inclusion. We’ve codified our commitment to Equal Pay, developed our own Diversity & Inclusion Committee and actively support organizations who promote diversity in our industry including Cyversity, Black Girls Who Hack and WiCys. Check out our current openings here.