… The Assn. for Computing Machinery has granted the A.M. Turing Award for technical merit to no more than a few people each year since 1966. Winners include Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn, who helped create the underpinnings of the Internet; Marvin Minsky, an artificial intelligence guru; and Douglas Engelbart, inventor of the modern computer mouse.
When Allen receives the award, which comes with a $100,000 prize, at the association’s annual banquet in San Diego on June 9, it won’t take a computer scientist to wonder: What took so long?
Allen’s achievement comes long after women toppled barriers in other professions. Marie Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in 1903. Edith Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921. Sandra Day O’Connor joined the U.S. Supreme Court in 1981, two years before Sally Ride became the first American woman in space.
But computer science still is dominated by men. Fewer than one in five bachelor’s degrees in computer science were given to women in 1994, according to the Computing Research Assn. Ten years later, that figure remains about the same, at 17%.
Allen, 74, spent her entire career at IBM, winning several of the company’s top awards. One of them, won in 1968 for her research, came with a prize: a pair of cufflinks and a tie clip.
“No woman had ever won that award before,” Allen said Tuesday, chuckling, from her home in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.
Two decades later, when she was named the first female IBM Fellow, her award certificate recognized the recipient for “his accomplishments.” …