Frances Allen (no relation to me) recently won ACM’s Turing Award for “pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution.”

An interesting Business Week article highlights the state of women in computer science. “Right now, only 26% of the workers in America’s information technology industry are women, and that’s down from 33% in 1990. The ratio seems likely to decline even further in future years. These days, only about 15% of undergraduate computer science degrees at major universities go to women.” In the mid-80’s women received over 40% of CS degrees and it looked like we were going to get to 50-50, but by 1990 it had declined to 18% and apparently is still declining.

I find the gender-angle on these stories interesting and personally relevant; however, I find it somewhat sad that honoring her accomplishments seems to be eclipsed by the story of her gender. Of course, Peter Naur’s award wasn’t covered in Business Week :)

One thought on “Frances Allen: first woman to win ACM’s Turing award

  1. Hi Sarah,
    I had no idea that the percentage numbers were declining. Why do you think that is? Are science-minded women turning to fields other than computers? The percentage of medical students who are women has been steadily rising for years.

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