Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Virginia Hall and Grace Murray Hopper

Virginia Hall was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1906 and she attended schools in France, Germnay and Austria. In 1931 she became Consular Service Clerk at the American Embassy in Warsaw and this helped her to further her career in foreign services. However, she sustained an injury meaning the loss of her lower leg which impacted her her plans for a diplomatic career, leading her to resign from this post in 1939.

She joined the ambulance service in France during WW2 and after evacuating to London from Vichy territory, she began volunteering for Britains Special Operations Executive, but this did mean that was sent back to Vichy territory in 1941 where she helped to coordinate the French underground. On her return to London in1943, she was given an MBE.

By 1944, she joined the US Office of Strategic Servies and she requested to be assigned to occupied France, this was allowed but her artificial leg prevented her from parachuting into France. Here, she helped to train a number of battalions on Guerilla Warfare against German troops.

In 1945 she was given the distinguished Service across, the only award given to civilian during WW2. After this, she joined the CIA in 1951 and worked as an analyst, retiring g in 1966 to spend time with her husband. She died in Washington DC July 1982.

She became a pillar of inspiration to American women, helping them to believe that they could become successful and although having a relationship would make them happy, a man was not essential to their success.

Grace Murray Hopper was born in NYC in 1906 and attended Vassar college with a degree in maths and later a PhD in maths from Yale.

In 1944 she as commissions as a lieutenant and was assigned to the Bureau of Ordance Computation Project at Harvard, producing the early prototype of the electronic computer. She became a research fellow at Harvard in 1949 and continued her work with computer technology, inventing the first computer compiler, whilst lecturing on computers. She predicted that computers in the future will be small enough to fit on desks.

Throughout her life she gained many ranks in the US Naval forces, reaching the rank of Rear Admiral in 1985 and the ship the US Hopper was named in her honour and she was buried with full Naval honours.

She demonstrated that women of the time could be very academic and could gain degrees if they wanted. She would have shown women that there was more to life for a woman that being a house wife and showed that it was possible to gain status with put the help of a male figure.

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