My Data Heroes


Two_women_operating_ENIAC[1]Ada Lovelace and Betty Holberton: The first women in computer programming started as “computers”, they were seen as glorified secretary’s who would switch out leads into sockets and leave the “thinking work” to the men. However, many of these women, including Ada Lovelace and Betty Holberton were pivotal programmers, even in the face of reduced opportunity and sexism in the workplace (and probably in their home environment,) that would make us scream blue murder today.

On her first day of lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, Holberton’s maths professor asked her if she wouldn’t be better off at home raising children [1]

Betty Holberton worked on BINAC, FORTRAN and COBOL (along with another amazing programmer Grace Hopper). She wrote the first statistical package and sorted out the keyboard, which we still use today.

Ada Lovelace is seen as the first female programmer – so much so that she is viewed to have written the first ever computer program. Astounding!


Purna Duggirala: Runs a fantastic site all about excel tips and tricks. His website is fantastically comprehensive, easy to read and inspiring. I am always discovering some new trick with excel from his site and his challenges are both fun and interesting. The real gem of his site is that it is so focused. He doesn’t over complicate and insist you use VBA (although you should sometimes). He shows you the power of excel in its raw form.


Edward Tufte: You cannot mention data science visualisation without taking about Eddie. His work is part statistics, part design and part angry rant. He is the yardstick by which many data scientists measure their work. Championing concise data rich visualisations that speak to an intelligent audience in a clear manner, with an aim to debunk the phrase “lies, damn lies and statistics”. Many websites have been spawned off his popular phrases: junk chart is just one example.

 Colleagues and Friends: you are my true heroes. Pushing me to learn as fast as you are, to work in sectors as cool as yours, to impress you with my speed and skill and know how. It’s you girls who inspire me. The fact I can talk to you about work and the meaning of life only impresses me further. Some notable examples of the amazing people I know will be featured in future blog posts. Watch this space.

Who are your data heroes? Who inspires you?



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