Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It only took 31 40 years...

Yes, my name is Jane, I have a PhD, and I can't do simple math. Either y'all are as bad at math as I am or too polite. Hee hee.

Great news today from the world of computing (although it doesn't seem to be widely reported, yet, as of this morning):

Frances Allen has been awarded the 2006 ACM A. M. Turing Award, which is the most prestigious prize in computer science.

Here's the first press release I saw about this, along with a shorter story from Computerworld.

She is the first woman in the 31 year history of the award to be awarded the prize.

Some highlights from her career:
* Started working at IBM's TJ Watson Research Center in 1957 (!!); spent her entire career at IBM
* Did groundbreaking work on program optimization and parallelization
* First woman to be named an IBM Fellow, in 1989
* Named an ACM Fellow in 1994
* Won the first Anita Borg Award for Technical Leadership, in 2004
* From what I understand, is and was a mentor extraordinaire for young women in CS.

Congratulations, Frances Allen. May you be the first in a long and distinguished line of women Turing Award winners!


Anonymous said...

Three thoughts came to mind when I heard this news.

First, why do people seem to care more about her gender than her contribution?

Second, shouldn't she have won it 10 years ago, alongside John Cocke?

And third, I remembered meeting her. Seated between me and a colleague at a boring meeting at TJ Watson, she was patient and even a little amused as we blasted infrared beams across her lap while playing some silly two-player game on our respective Palm Pilots.

Jane said...

Anon, thanks for sharing the personal anecdote---how cool! I agree with your first two observations. Unfortunately, until we get more parity in this field (gender, race, you name it), we'll continue to see both things happening. When you "stand out" from the crowd, people will notice and comment on your difference, and some will discount your accomplishments (unconsciously or consciously) because of your difference.

anonymous (i'm back) said...

Well, I am willing to conduct my research while standing on my head -- that would be a first, no? Send the award (and the check!) to ... oh, wait, I'm anonymous.

I'm just teasing. I think it's pretty cool that a woman won the Turing Award. Fran Allen will not be the last. (Who is on your list for second?)