This month’s Claritas #techspiration comes with a hint of sadness as we honour the late, great Mary Lee Berners-Lee who sadly passed away in late 2017.
We saw it fitting to pay tribute to Mary’s contribution to technology over her fantastic 93 years on the earth. Let’s learn why she is a techspiration to us and many others across the world.
- Mary was born Mary Lee Woods on 12 March 1924 in Birmingham
- Both her parents were teachers and she had a brother who was killed in action whilst serving in the RAF in World War Two
- At Yardley Grammar School in Birmingham she developed a keen interest in mathematics
- Throughout wartime she worked at the Telecommunications Research Laboratory in Malvern, Worcestershire
- Post-war she completed studies in mathematics at the University of Birmingham and then took a job at Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra, Australia
- Once she returned to the UK she was part of a group of women who worked as programmers on Ferranti Mark 1 computer
- It was here she was introduced to Conway Berners-Lee to whom she was later married.
What makes her great?
She was instrumental in her work on the Ferranti Mark 1 and the Ferranti Mark 1* computers. The Ferranti Mark 1 was deemed the world's first commercially available general-purpose electronic computer and a tremendous amount of work went into its programming. The computers were written in machine code and used serial 40-bit arithmetic meaning, among many other challenges, creating such programmes were time-consuming and very difficult. Nevertheless it was Mary along with other colleagues who managed to do it, making history.
Why she’s a ‘techspiration’ to Claritas
She fought for equal pay rights for women while at Ferranti, after learning that female employees were receiving less than men. Her case, which was presented to the personnel department, was successful in its objective and achieved equal pay for both men and women at the time.
Further to her own individual genius, Mary and her husband Conway had four children. One of these just so happened to be Tim Berners-Lee, an English engineer and computer scientist, who would then go on to invent the World Wide Web.
Mary’s influence on the world of technology has been significant, she’s a leading light for #WomenInTech and a role model for young women who are thinking about a career in I.T.
To read further ‘techspiration’ content, visit our blog here. And if you want more I.T. and tech content, follow us across our four social media channels.