International Women’s Day – The Story of Margaret Hamilton

This International Women’s Day, Consultant, Rachel Sim highlights the story of NASA’s Computer Scientist, Margaret Hamilton, who is the inspiration behind the name Hamilton Forth.

International Women’s Day is celebrated annually as a way of bringing awareness to gender equality and celebrating women’s achievements. At Hamilton Forth, we see it as a day to honour and share the accomplishments of women who have made significant contributions to the development of technology.

For us, this is not only prominent on the 8th of March, but we are reminded every day of the contributions women have made to technology with Hamilton Forth’s name being derived from the computer scientist who helped to develop the onboard flight software for NASA’s Apollo program: Margaret Hamilton. This homage represents our commitment to the advancement of the technology sector in the UK and beyond, and our commitment to supporting women in technology.

Margaret Hamilton was a computing pioneer, responsible for developing software that was the most sophisticated of its time. Barack Obama, declared her a symbol of her generation of unsung women who helped send humankind into space”.

A vital member of the Apollo mission team, Margaret Hamilton was one of the main software engineers responsible for developing the technology on board. During the mission, the Eagle lunar module’s computers showed alarming faults as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin neared the moon’s surface. Overcoming concerns, Hamilton instructed the team to proceed and deciphered the cause of the hardware-related faults, allowing for the safe moon landing.

The Eagle had landed, thanks to Margaret Hamilton and her team.

Hamilton was working in a time when technology was in its infancy, and women were rarely represented in the world of work, particularly in technology or engineering fields. She overcame biases, barriers and challenges to make a monumental difference to the world of space exploration and technology.

When Hamilton took on the role of leading the software development for the Apollo mission, there were concerns over whether the men would challenge her right to the position due to her being a woman. Fortunately, the men in her team respected her expertise and valued her talent. However, the mere concept that this was deemed to be a risk, demonstrates the inequality of that time.

Since then, we have made great strides towards equality yet there is still work to be done. A report by PWC, found that only 27% of female students would consider a career in technology, compared to 61% of males.

At Hamilton Forth, we are passionate about encouraging girls and underrepresented groups to pursue a career in technology through our partnerships with DressCode and the Digital Technology Education Charter. We look forward to continuing to support these initiatives this International Women’s Day and throughout the year.

If you are interested in finding out more about Hamilton Forth’s services or the communities we support, please email [email protected]

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