Contributor: Kari Heistad, Founder and CEO, Culture Coach International
Obtaining a leave of absence from teaching mathematics at Vassar in 1943, Admiral Grace Hopper joined the U.S. Navy Reserve and worked as a programmer on the Mark I computer at Harvard University. “Amazing Grace” believed that computer programs needed to be written in a language close to English, not machine code. She led the development of the computer language COBOL which, by 2000, was used by 70% of computers worldwide. Hopper also invented the term “debugging” when she removed a moth that had gotten into a computer.
As a role model and “The First Lady of Computer Science”, Hopper serves as an inspiration to anyone who has faced challenges and who has forged ahead. In doing so, she didn’t just match the current standard; she created a new one for others to match. Diverse teams have individuals with skills and insights that, if used collectively, can help them to set new standards for success, inclusion, engagement, creativity, and innovation.
Action Step: Discuss who has inspired you and how their inspiration helped you to set new standards for excellence.
Discussion Questions to consider:
- When serving as a trail blazer, you are required to overcome many biases and assumptions. Why do you think this is the case?
- How can we uncover our biases about what we think people can/cannot do?
- Admiral Hopper overcame biases about the way “computer” language should work. What lessons can we learn from this?
- Are there areas in our teamwork that we need to overcome bias? If so, how do we improve and overcome the bias?
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