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Mary Kenneth Keller (wikipedia.org)
32 points by amalantony06 on Dec 27, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 6 comments

This is highly relevant to what we've just lived through.

'She and Irving C. Tang were the first two people to earn a doctorate in computer science in the United States'.. 'After finishing her doctorate in 1965, Keller founded the computer science department at Clarke College (now Clarke University), a Catholic women's college founded by Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. That same year, that National Science Foundation awarded her a grant of $25,000 payable over two years for "instructional equipment for undergraduate education.. 'in 1975, Keller declared "we have not fully used a computer as the greatest interdisciplinary tool that has been invented to date'.

I'd agree with her assessment even today. How much in the last year of working online with students have we even broken a single barrier of real change that won't be rolled back once we open classrooms again? What a lost opportunity to have built a generation of students who understand computers above video chat and Twitch. We could have put our collective energy into using this opportunity of remote learning to develop long-term educational programs that teach about the very tool they rely on. We failed them. When I was young you needed some awareness of how computers worked to use them. Is it fair that we don't teach computer science as a core curriculum?

I'm afraid that a truer statement will turn out to be "we have not fully used a computer as the greatest disciplinary tool that has been invented to date".

Her story is trailblazing, but unfortunately history is very large and the number of great thinkers and unreasonably motivated people is substantial. And that is just the ones we know about.

I was reading up on the so-called Islamic Golden Age of Science. It left me feeling that we of the internet are unreasonably lucky to be living in an age where so many of the founders of a field are either still alive or only recently deceased. We may not even live to see even the obvious implications of the internet play out.

I was taught classical Hebrew by a Catholic Nun. I didn't know she was a Nun initially. She just wore rather conservative clothes and had very close cropped hair. Generally she was very serious about education, but once she was explaining something in Genesis and she said something casually dismissive about "fairy stories".

My overall take was she was a serious academic who had side stepped the social expectations of 1960s Ireland by taking vows and then getting on with her work.

This was a fairly common route for women who didn't want to participate in the ridiculous rules of the time. A friend on the other side of 90 was a graduate of psychiatry but wasn't allowed to work once she got married-literally, that was the law in her country. Until the laws changed sometime in the 60s.

'She and Irving C. Tang were the first two people to earn a doctorate in computer science in the United States.'

Off topic: Was interested to learn more about Irving Tang after reading the article. Seems Irving Tang has very recently passed away [1]. RIP sir

[1] https://obits.oklahoman.com/obituaries/oklahoman/obituary.as...

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