You’ve certainly heard of Rosie the Riveter, the iconic symbol of women who worked in American factories during World War II. But have you heard of the Top Secret Rosies?
Computer, at that point, was a job title, not a machine. Long before [they] were businesswomen, community activists, mothers or grandmothers, they were recruited by the U.S. military to do ballistics research. They worked six days a week, sometimes pulling double or triple shifts, along with dozens of other women.
The weapons trajectories they calculated were passed out to soldiers in the field and bombardiers in the air. …
It wasn’t factory work, but they were “Rosies” nonetheless, filling jobs that men would’ve taken if they hadn’t been at war or wrapped up in other military research.
The story of the Rosies doesn’t end with the end of WWII. The very first programmers — programmers of the ENIAC, the “first general-purpose electronic computer” — were members of these mathematical Rosies!