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Top Ten Geek Girls 560

TurboPatrol writes "CNET have published a list of the Top Ten Girl Geeks throughout history. The winners include the elegant Ada Byron (the world's first computer programmer), Grace Hopper (invented the compiler) and Lisa Simpson (invented the perpetual motion machine — well, in the world of cartoons). Some of the entries are fascinating, for example Marie Curie apparently used to carry plutonium in her jacket pockets. Have they missed anyone out?" At least two entries on the list are stupid. I guess someone thought they were funny.
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Top Ten Geek Girls

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  • Leah? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fernandoh26 ( 963204 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:01AM (#16948812) Homepage
    What about Leah Culver?

    http://leahculver.com/ [leahculver.com]

  • by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:05AM (#16948866)
    I'd have gone for Willow Rosenberg [wikipedia.org] instead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:08AM (#16948942)
    Seriously, Heddy Lamar helped develop the ideas behind spread spectrum that we use today.
  • by chudik ( 746965 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:12AM (#16949006)
    how about Radia Perlman?
  • by IWannaBeAnAC ( 653701 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:12AM (#16949022)

    I havn't visited her old rooms (in the basement of the Sorbonne) myself, but I've met a few people who have. If you turn off all the lights, you can see the walls, glowing in the dark.

    They had a big scare a few years ago, when they were auctioning off some old furniture. Turned out some of it dangerously radioactive.

  • Re:where the hell (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DrPizza ( 558687 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:17AM (#16949134) Homepage

    Or the Daemonette (Ceren Ercen).
  • by georgeha ( 43752 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:20AM (#16949188) Homepage
    She knows her way around Solaris and UNIX.
  • Umm... What About... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Spud Zeppelin ( 13403 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:22AM (#16949224)
    Eve Andersson?

    Mena Trott?

    Barbara Broccoli?

    J.K. Rowling?

    Zoe Lofgren?

    This seems like so much of the usual CNet feature-story drivel....

  • Jeri Ellsworth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ex-geek ( 847495 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:22AM (#16949246)
    She is the self-taught chip designer who created the C-64 in a joystick thingie.

    Jeri Ellsworth Lectures about the C64 & C-One at Stanford Uni. [google.com]
  • They forgot... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:31AM (#16949416)
    They forgot the #1 Geek Girl! Kevin Rose!> Look at this: Kevin Rose on cover of People Magazine [baytzim.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:32AM (#16949430)
    For Lynn Conway. Working your way to the top of computer and chip design, twice, deserves some mention.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Conway [wikipedia.org]
  • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:33AM (#16949442) Homepage Journal
    It was probably Polonium and not Plutonium. However since she did work with pitchblend there where possibly trace amounts of plutonium in some of her samples but none that really amounted to anything. As far as the Geek girl list goes yea Paris Hilton should be booted. Isn't her 15 minutes of fame over yet? They missed one of my all time favorites Hedy Lamarr. She invented spread spectrum radio. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr [wikipedia.org]

  • by porkchop_d_clown ( 39923 ) <mwheinz AT me DOT com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:35AM (#16949458) Homepage
    1. Babbage never built his difference engine, so how could Lovelace write programs for it? I would suggest that who ever wrote the first patterns for the Jacquard Loom" [wikipedia.org] deserves more credit than she.

    2. While Grace Hopper (who I met twice) was been frequently accused of fluffing her own legend, and enjoyed telling the story of the "first computer bug", she never claimed to have found the moth that got caught in the Mark II - the machine operators did, and taped it to the operations log.

    3. I'm sorry but Curie could not have possibly carried plutonium in her pockets, since she died in 1934 and plutonium wasn't discovered until 1941.

    4. Darryl Hannah?!? Paris Hilton?!? What about Sally Ride? Judith Resnick or any of the other female astronauts?
  • What About... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eno2001 ( 527078 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:35AM (#16949464) Homepage Journal
    ...Hedy Lamar [wikipedia.org]? She looks infintely hotter than the real geek girls on that paltry list and she was responsible for co-inventing Frequency-hopped spread spectrum technology used in WiFi today...
  • Adele Goldberg (Score:3, Interesting)

    by trb ( 8509 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:36AM (#16949500)
    Adele Goldberg [wikipedia.org] delveloped Smalltalk at Xerox PARC. Seminal GUI and OO programming system. Probably fits in there somewhere between Daryl Hannah and Paris Hilton.
  • by porkchop_d_clown ( 39923 ) <mwheinz AT me DOT com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:45AM (#16949664) Homepage
    You read descriptions of what she and her husband would do with samples of radium and you want to cry. They had no idea what they were doing to themselves.
  • No Emmy Noether? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mosel-saar-ruwer ( 732341 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:52AM (#16949810)

    Marie Curie but no Emmy Noether [wikipedia.org]?


  • by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:54AM (#16949878) Homepage Journal
    Roberta Williams belongs on this list. Married to the brash and brilliant programmer and founder of Sierra On-Line, Ken Williams, the mousey Roberta wrote fantastical good-natured interactive tales in the form of text adventures. In the company's infancy she also "manned" the only customer support phone, and took great delight in hearing direct praise and personally coaching players through her games without giving direct hints. She later went on to author the Kings Quest series which won countless critical and commercial accolades.

    Her games challenged the technologies of the day, with Kings Quest V being the company's first entirely mouse-driven adventure title, and Phantasmagoria being the first adventure game exclusively portraying filmed actors and locations. Despite her mild manner and reserved tongue, Phantasmagoria broke ground as one of the first wide-release PC games unabashedly targeted at mature audiences with scenes of graphic gore and even an infamous rape scene.

    Perhaps most important of all, Roberta Williams wrote games for people - not specifically men or women - who enjoyed a good story with strong characters. She is remarkable for excelling in a mostly male-dominated industry without having to resort to the image of "PC game princess".
  • by callistra.moonshadow ( 956717 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @10:57AM (#16949940) Journal
    Yeah. I was wondering about that too. I can see the amusement in putting Lisa Simpson in there but it also sorta points out that the entire list is pretty bogus. I'd suggest reviewing a list put out by Discover Magazine about a year ago. It honored contributions by women to science.

    http://www.discover.com/issues/nov-02/features/fea t50/?page=1 [discover.com]

  • by dawnzer ( 981212 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:18AM (#16950310)
    My girl-geek role model is Dr. Patricia Galloway [nielsen-wurster.com.au].

    She is probably the best known female civil engineer with an expertise in something thought of as very unfeminine - construction.

    I would say Lisa Simpson's character is truly geek material, but I wouldn't call her a role-model. Lisa's character is shunned for her braininess. I want to emulate a woman who is smart, feminine AND successful.
  • Rosalind Franklin? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by luwain ( 66565 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:32AM (#16950556)
    I've always admired Rosalind Franklin, the oft-overlooked molecular biologist who did much of the actual science (intricate lab work) that led to the discovery of the structure of DNA. She died at a young age (37)in 1958 and thus did not share in the nobel prize that was awarded to Watson and Crick in the 1960s. From accessexcellence.org (http://www.accessexcellence.org/RC/AB/BC/Rosalind _Franklin.html) we have:
    "After discovering the existence of the A and B forms of DNA, Rosalind Franklin also succeeded in developing an ingenious and laborious method to separate the two forms, providing the first DNA crystals pure enough to yield interpretable diffraction patterns. She then went on to obtain excellent X-ray diffraction patterns of crystalline B-form DNA and, using a combination of crystallographic theory and chemical reasoning, discovered important basic facts about its structure. She discovered that the sugar-phosphate backbone of DNA lies on the outside of the molecule, not the inside as was previously thought. She discovered the helical structure of DNA has two strands, not three as proposed in competing theories. She gave quantitative details about the shape and size of the double helix. The all- important missing piece of the puzzle, that she could not discover from her data, was how the bases paired on the inside of the helix, and thus the secret of heredity itself. That discovery remained for Watson and Crick to make.
    After Randall presented Franklin's data and unpublished conclusions at a routine seminar, aspects of her results were informally communicated to Watson and Crick by Maurice Wilkins and Max Perutz, without her or John Randall's knowledge. It was Watson and Crick who put all the pieces of the puzzle together from a variety of sources including Franklin's results, to build their ultimately correct and complete description of DNA's structure. Their model for the structure of DNA appeared in the journal Nature in April, 1953, alongside Franklin's own report.
    Rosalind Franklin never knew that Watson and Crick had gotten access to her results. At the time of the Watson and Crick publication and afterwards, Franklin appears not to have been bitter about their accomplishment. In her own publications about DNA structure, she agreed with their essential conclusions but remained skeptical about some details of their model. Franklin moved on to work on an even more challenging problem: the structure of an entire virus, called the Tobacco Mosaic Virus. Her subsequent publications on this topic would include four more papers in the journal Nature. Rosalind Franklin was friendly with both James Watson and Francis Crick, and communicated regularly with them until her life and career were cut short by cancer in April of 1958, at the age of 37. She died with a reputation around the world for her contributions to knowledge about the structure of carbon compounds and of viruses. After her death, Watson and Crick made abundantly clear in public lectures that they could not have discovered the structure of DNA without her work. However, because the Nobel Prize is not awarded posthumously, Rosalind Franklin could not be cited for her essential role in the discovery of the physical basis of genetic heredity. "

    Rosalind Franklin, in my opinion, is one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century that few people know about.

  • by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @11:51AM (#16950890)
    So no, Marie Curie would have died a lot sooner had she carried plutonium around. As it happened, what she did carry around killed her by 1934.

    Actually, the most common (and useful in bombs) isotope of plutonium is Pu-239. This is primarily an alpha emitter. Unless you eat it or inhale particles of it, it's unlikely to kill you terribly quickly unless you put a neutron reflector around it and cause it to rapidly fission (as happened to a few unfortunate experimenters at Los Alamos in the 40s).


  • by ek_adam ( 442283 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:44PM (#16951976) Homepage
    There's also a song about it.
    Madame Curie's Hands

    Copyright ©1987 Duane Elms- All Rights Reserved
    Lyrics posted by permission of the author
    Tune: Leader of the Band, © Dan Fogelberg

    A young and headstrong lady, was Madame Marie Curie,
    And radiation was the field she studied selflessly.
    She didn't know the dangers, as she worked long nights alone,
    And spent her health to open up the secrets of the stone.
    Rest of lyrics here [ovff.org].
  • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @12:51PM (#16952110) Homepage Journal

    Frankenstein is her magnum opus, reductio ad absurdum attack on geeks.

    I read it as an attack on the potential for immorality inherent in science, rather than an assault on those who enjoy science, make use of science, or are scientists themselves.

    She was only eighteen and a "popular girl" when she started writing the book. i.e., she's that bitch in the hall who pointed at your nerdiness, giggled and made rude comments...

    I'm not sure if you're being facetious here or not, but it sounds like you know her very well. Have you read a biography or something else that gives you such insights into her character and her attitude toward "geeks" (which as I understand it wasn't even a social categorization until well into the 20th Century and the advent of model rockets, ham radio, and home chemistry sets)?

    Looks like you're wearing a +5 Cloak of Bitterness today, dude.

  • by Pchelka ( 805036 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:05PM (#16952400)

    I agree that this list is insulting. It sure makes me feel like all of those years I spent in graduate school working on my Ph.D. in physics were a total waste. I've been involved in a lot of public outreach projects aimed at improving the visibility of women scientists, but apparently these public outreach programs have not had any effect on the perceptions of the general public.

    The person who came up with the CNET list certainly didn't try very hard at all. If they really were interested in creating a list of women who have contributed to mathematics and science, there are a lot of organizations and web sites where they could have found better information. For example:

    The Women of NASA [nasa.gov]
    The Society of Women Engineers [swe.org]
    The Association of Women in Science [awis.org]
    The Committee on Women in Science and Engineering [nationalacademies.org] at the National Academies of Science

    And of course, there are also many Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

    People always wonder why more women do not pursue careers in science and engineering. The persistence of the misconception that only men can be successful in science and engineering, as well as stupid garbage like this list, are definitely not helping. Reading the CNET list made me feel as though women's contributions to science are completely unappreciated. On the other hand, reading some of the Slashdot comments mentioning prominent women who should have been on the list, gives me a little bit of hope that things can change.

  • by yosofun ( 933530 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:10PM (#16952516)
    actually, Shelley invented sci fi as a genre. Frankenstein was way before, basically, everything. not to mention, she'd written a sci fi novel that even modern writers often have difficulty beating...
  • by somepunk ( 720296 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:46PM (#16953280) Homepage
    I really support the parent on this one. The author shows a deep lack of respect for women, and for geeks. Here's my list, and I left a little room on it for your favorites.

    Emmy Noether
    Hedy Lamar
    Marie Curie
    Rosalind Franklin did all the x-ray diffraction heavy lifting for those punks watson and crick
    Lise Meitner co-discovered the fission of uranium
    Emilie du Chatelet http://www.mathpages.com/home/kmath595/kmath595.ht m [mathpages.com]
    Mileva Maric einstien's ubergeek first wife, to whom some credit a lot of special relativity.
    Hypatia mathematician, philosopher, martyr. http://www.agnesscott.edu/lriddle/women/hypatia.ht m [agnesscott.edu]

    All should be on wikipedia.

    You go girls!
  • Re:Hedy Lamarr (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rick17JJ ( 744063 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:52PM (#16953454)

    Yes, Hedy Lamarr also deserves to be mentioned because she was the actress who invented frequency-hopping spread spectrum radio technology. During WWII, with the help of Peter Antheil, she worked on using a frequency-hopping radio to create a jam resistant control system for "guided" torpedoes.

    Before that, as a teenager, she made headlines and shocked Europe by doing few nude scenes in the Czech film, "Ecstasy". She later married a merchant who was selling munitions to Germany. She did learn some about technology from him, but he was a very controlling person who watched her all the time. During an evening party she drugged her maid and escaped to London. She then signed a contract with MGM and became a movie star who starred opposite leading men such as Charles Boyer, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and Victor Mature.

    She met George Antheil at a Hollywood party and the next day they discussed what they could do to stop Hitler. With his knowledge of player pianos, they worked together to develop a guidance system for torpedoes that could not easily be jammed. She also helped raise money for war bonds by selling kisses for $50,000 per smack. After their patent expired in the 1950's Sylvania "re-discovered" frequency-hopping and called it spread-spectrum. Today many pagers, cellphones and other devices use spread-spectrum technology. If I am not mistaken, it is also used in 802.11b/g wireless networking for computers. Here are a couple of links about her:

    The Inventor of Frequency Hopping, a web technology [hypatiamaze.org]

    The birth of spread spectrum [harvard.edu]

  • by twotommylong ( 794494 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @01:59PM (#16953616)
    True.... even before I read the article I came up with 3 names I knew would not be on it

    1) Ellen Hancock, First with IBM (hired as a programmer in the mid 60s, then led the network team [SNA, Token Ring under her watch] first woman Senior VP at IBM), then with Apple (as CTO, she killed Copland... and pushed for the NeXT buy out... in some respects, she may have saved Apple... and then fired by Steve)

    2) Kim Polese: Product Manager of original java team, co-founder of Marimba, poster girl of the DotCom(bomb) era.

    3) Kari Byron (MythBusters) would be better mass media geekdom icon than Paris or Lisa, at least she sometimes shoots things, ignites stuff, dabbles in ballistic trajectories, welds stuff, and dresses GyrlGeek;-).

    YMMV, but those would be my Candidate Substitutions.

  • Re:No Emmy Noether? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tired_Blood ( 582679 ) on Wednesday November 22, 2006 @02:13PM (#16953904)
    First, any Top 10 list will exclude many significant choices. In this case, the list is terribly flawed for including the two 2D individuals (Lisa Simpson and the other one).

    Second, Marie Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize.

    Third, she was awarded it twice. Only three other people were so honored, four if you count Warburg [wikipedia.org] (all of them: male).

    Fourth, she was the first female Nobel Prize laureate. To have been given such a distinction and be accepted by the academic community in those days, she had to be many levels above her male colleagues.

    IMO, those four reasons are enough to explain: "Marie Curie but no Emmy Noether?"

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