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Programming languages created by women

The relationship between programming languages and facial hair is well-known. When the author has a full beard, the programming language tends to be successful in the industry for decades. When the author is clean-shaven, the programming language tends to be lean, beautiful — and very rarely used for practical purposes. The truly bizarre and perverse languages (such as Perl) tend to be created by guys with moustaches.

So one day I was thinking — COBOL has certain stereotypes associated with it: it is very verbose and full of declarations, it is almost bureacratic in nature. And it is associated with a woman, Grace Murray Hopper (although, as I later found out, she didn't actually create it herself). Do other programming languages created by women have yet other amusing commonalities, similar to those Tamir Khason pointed out with respect to facial hair?

There aren't a lot of those languages, for sure. The lack of woman-made programming languages reflect a skewed gender distribution in computer science, and in science in general. However, with the help of John Cowan (who is quite knowledgeable about almost everything), and others, I have found the following:

  • FLOW-MATIC was written by Grace Murray Hopper. (Thanks to Jay Kominek for pointing this out.)
  • FORMAC was written by Jean E. Sammet.
  • COBOL wasn't actually written by Grace Murray Hopper — although it was very much influenced by her FLOW-MATIC. However, Jean E. Sammet sat in the committee that specified COBOL.
  • Icon was created by husband-and-wife team Ralph E. Griswold and Madge T. Griswold.
So there it is, programming languages created by women. All four of them. That's altogether too few to say anything interesting about it, but at least now it's collected in one place, on the web and searchable for ever. If anyone knows of any additional ones, please let me know, and I'll update the list.

[Thursday, Feb 09, 2006 @ 22:39] | [] | # | G