In today’s post, for International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the incredible achievements of women in technology, education, and children’s psychology. We are not reinventing the wheel, as there is various content available to read online on these topics. Our resource list will be, as usual, at the bottom of the post.
Anna Freud (3 December 1895 – 9 October 1982) was a British psychoanalyst of Austrian-Jewish descent. She was born in Vienna, the sixth and youngest child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays. She followed the path of her father and contributed to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Hermine Hug-Hellmuth and Melanie Klein, she may be considered the founder of psychoanalytic child psychology.
Compared to her father, her work emphasized the importance of the ego and its normal “developmental lines” as well as incorporating a distinctive emphasis on collaborative work across a range of analytical and observational contexts.
After the Freud family were forced to leave Vienna in 1938 with the advent of the Nazi regime in Austria, she resumed her psychoanalytic practice and her pioneering work in child psychology in London, establishing the Hampstead Child Therapy Course and Clinic in 1952 (now the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families) as a centre for therapy, training and research work.
Mary Dinsmore Ainsworth (December 1, 1913 – March 21, 1999) was an American-Canadian developmental psychologist known for her work in the development of the attachment theory. She designed the strange situation procedure to observe early emotional attachment between a child and its primary caregiver.
A 2002 Review of General Psychology survey ranked Ainsworth as the 97th most cited psychologist of the 20th century. Many of Ainsworth’s studies are “cornerstones” of modern-day attachment theory.
At Johns Hopkins, Ainsworth confronted sex discrimination (O’Connell, 1983). According to O’Connell, her salary did not fit her age, experience, and contributions, and three chairmen had recommended her for annual increases in salary. Her income did not significantly increase until the pressures of affirmative action set in and after Ainsworth had written a letter to the Dean. Until 1968, women were also required to eat in a separate lunch room than the male faculty. The University claimed that this was so the women would not have to see their male counterparts in informal clothing at lunchtime.
After 1968, Ainsworth noted that a sort of reverse discrimination set in where women were high in demand as teachers and every university committee had to include a woman (O’Connell, 1983). In 1962, Ainsworth continued her research on attachment and security at Johns Hopkins (O’Connell, 1983). According to O’Connell, Ainsworth used the “Strange Situation” and observed infants and mothers in their natural setting. Ainsworth visited the homes of the mothers frequently and approximately 72 hours of observation for each infant occurred. As in the Uganda studies, Ainsworth found that infants used their attachment figures as secure bases from which to explore the world.
Melanie Klein ( 30 March 1882 – 22 September 1960) was an Austrian-British author and psychoanalyst known for her work in child analysis. She was the primary figure in the development of object relations theory. Klein suggested that pre-verbal existential anxiety in infancy catalyzed the formation of the unconscious, resulting in the unconscious splitting of the world into good and bad idealizations. In her theory, how the child resolves that split depends on the constitution of the child and the character of nurturing the child experiences; the quality of resolution can inform the presence, absence, and/or type of distresses a person experiences later in life.
Melanie Klein was deeply inspired by Sigmund Freud. Her major breakthrough was in tracing the development of the human mind all the way back to its earliest roots, illuminating the emotional world of babies and young children. Klein’s clinical work, together with her direct observations of babies and their mothers, led her to an ever deeper understanding of the intricate internal dramas at play during the first weeks and months of life.
Klein paid serious attention to how a tiny baby may cope with extreme states of mind, from the intense pleasures and satisfaction of being held, fed and loved, to the pains and frustrations of being left too long in a hungry or frightened state. Still closely attuned to Freud’s original model of the mind, Klein went on to develop radical new theories about infantile experience, showing how the psychological dramas of infancy continue to influence our responses to love and loss throughout our lives.
She became one of the first psychoanalysts to work with children, and her pioneering technique provides the foundation for many clinical trainings and interventions with children and adolescents today.
Annie J. Easley (April 23, 1933 – June 25, 2011) was an American computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist. She worked for the Lewis Research Center (now Glenn Research Center) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). She was a leading member of the team which developed software for the Centaur rocket stage, and was one of the first African-Americans to work at NASA.
At NASA she took upon herself to be an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) counselor. This was one of the formal ways that she helped her supervisors at NASA address discrimination complaints from all levels.
Her 34-year career included developing and implementing computer code that analyzed alternative power technologies, supported the Centaur high-energy upper rocket stage, determined solar, wind and energy projects, identified energy conversion systems and alternative systems to solve energy problems. Her energy assignments included studies to determine the life use of storage batteries, such as those used in electric utility vehicles. Her computer applications have been used to identify energy conversion systems that offer the improvement over commercially available technologies. She retired in 1989. Despite her long career and numerous contributions to research, she was cut out of NASA’s promotional photos.
Annie Easley was interviewed in Cleveland on August 21, 2001 by Sandra Johnson. The 55 page interview transcript includes material on the history of the Civil Rights Movement, Glenn Research Center, Johnson Space Center, space flight, and the contribution of women to space flight. In that same Interview, Easley was asked whether she still played with gadgets and stated “I don’t have the time or the desire. I will get the email and I’ll send it, but I don’t play with it. It’s not like this fascinating thing I play with. I’d much rather be out doing something actively, like on the golf course or doing other things.
Easley was also a budding athlete who founded and subsequently became the first President of the NASA Ski Club and participated in other local ski clubs.
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is often regarded as one of the first computer programmers.
Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the calculating engine, supplementing it with an elaborate set of notes, simply called “Notes”. Lovelace’s notes are important in the early history of computers, containing what many consider to be the first computer program—that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. Other historians reject this perspective and point out that Babbage’s personal notes from the years 1836/1837 contain the first programs for the engine. She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mindset of “poetical science” led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine (as shown in her notes) examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.
Mary Kenneth Keller, B.V.M. (December 17, 1913 – January 10, 1985) was an American Roman Catholic religious sister, educator and pioneer in computer science. She and Irving C. Tang were the first two people to earn a doctorate in computer science in the United States.
Keller believed in the potential for computers to increase access to information and promote education. After finishing her doctorate in 1965, Keller founded the computer science department at Clarke College (now Clarke University), a Catholic women’s college founded by Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. That same year, that National Science Foundation awarded her a grant of $25,000 payable over two years for “instructional equipment for undergraduate education.” One of the first computer science departments at a small college, Keller directed this department for twenty years. Clarke College now has the Keller Computer Center and Information Services, which is named after her and which provides computing and telecommunication support to Clarke College students, faculty members, and staff. The college has also established the Mary Kenneth Keller Computer Science Scholarship in her honor.
Keller was an advocate for the involvement of women in computing and the use of computers for education. She helped to establish the Association of Small Computer Users in Education (ASCUE). She went on to write four books in the field. At the ACM/SIGUCC User Services Conference in 1975, Keller declared “we have not fully used a computer as the greatest interdisciplinary tool that has been invented to date.”
Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori (August 31, 1870 – May 6, 1952) was an Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, and her writing on scientific pedagogy. At an early age, Montessori enrolled in classes at an all-boys technical school, with hopes of becoming an engineer. She soon had a change of heart and began medical school at the Sapienza University of Rome, where she graduated with honors in 1896. Her educational method is in use today in many public and private schools globally.
The Montessori method of education was developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori. Emphasizing independence, it views children as naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a sufficiently supportive and well-prepared learning environment. It discourages some conventional measures of achievement, such as grades and tests. Montessori developed her theories in the early 1900s through scientific experimentation with her students; the method has since been used in many parts of the world, in public and private schools alike.
A range of practices exist under the name “Montessori”, which is not trademarked in the US. Popular elements include mixed-age classrooms, student freedom (including their choices of activity), long blocks of uninterrupted work time, and specially trained teachers. Scientific studies regarding the Montessori method are mostly positive, with a 2017 review stating that “broad evidence” exists for its efficacy. Some studies suggest that methods closer to Montessori’s original approach, rather than modernized methods, are better for students.
Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, disability rights advocate, political activist and lecturer. Born in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, she lost her sight and hearing after a bout of illness at the age of nineteen months. She then communicated primarily using home signs until the age of seven when she met her first teacher and life-long companion Anne Sullivan, who taught her language, including reading and writing; Sullivan’s first lessons involved spelling words on Keller’s hand to show her the names of objects around her. She also learned how to speak and to understand other people’s speech using the Tadoma method. After an education at both specialist and mainstream schools, she attended Radcliffe College of Harvard University and became the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. She worked for the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) from 1924 until 1968, during which time she toured the United States and travelled to 39 countries around the globe advocating for those with vision loss.
Keller was a prolific author, writing 14 books and hundreds of speeches and essays on topics ranging from animals to Mahatma Gandhi. Keller campaigned for those with disabilities, for women’s suffrage, labor rights, and world peace. She joined the Socialist Party of America in 1909. She was a supporter of the NAACP and an original member of the American Civil Liberties Union. In 1933, when her book How I Became a Socialist was burned by Nazi youth, she wrote an open letter to the Student Body of Germany condemning censorship and prejudice.
The story of Keller and Sullivan was made famous by Keller’s autobiography, The Story of My Life, and its adaptations for film and stage, The Miracle Worker. Her birthplace is now a museum and sponsors an annual “Helen Keller Day”. Her June 27 birthday is commemorated as Helen Keller Day in Pennsylvania and, in the centenary year of her birth, was recognized by a presidential proclamation from U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
She was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1971 and was one of twelve inaugural inductees to the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame on June 8, 2015.
Julia Eileen Gillard AC (born 29 September 1961) is an Australian former politician who served as the 27th Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the Labor Party from 2010 to 2013.
Gillard held the responsibilities of the Education portfolio for four days after becoming Prime Minister, before appointing Simon Crean as Education Minister on 28 June 2010. Gillard also altered the nomenclature of “Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research” to comprise tertiary education.
At the July 2010 National Press Club, Gillard stated “I will make education central to my economic agenda because of the role it plays in developing the skills that lead to rewarding and satisfying work – and that can build a high-productivity, high-participation economy. “The Gillard Government in January 2011 extended tax cuts to parents to help pay for stationery, textbooks or computer equipment under the Education Tax Refund scheme.
Gillard continued to put the My School website centre of her education agenda, which was controversial at the time when she implemented it as Minister for Education. Although it was popular amongst parents, the website helped parents view statistics of the school their children attended. She had since unveiled the revamped version, My School 2.0, promising better information to parents.
Universities also placed highly on her education agenda. Legislation which would have been voted on in November 2010 would have seen the introduction of a national universities regulator; however, this was delayed until 2011 following criticisms from the higher education sector. It was also announced by her government that legislation to establish the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency would also be introduced early 2011.
Historically, women have received less than equal treatment, with some countries finally allowing them to vote just 50 or so years ago. This cultural behaviour is slowly changing for the better, and we encourage this shift to accelerate.
We want to motivate everyone to praise the efforts of women all throughout history and modern times, particularly on this celebratory day of 8th of March.