Today, the U.S. Google Doodle honors the publication of Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville; three days ago, on October 15th, the Doodle honored the cartoon Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay (you can read more about the creation of the Nemo Doodle on the Doodles blog). According to my methods for counting Doodle honorees and tracking their gender distribution, neither of these Doodles “count.” That’s because they honor the creations of these two male authors, rather than directly marking the birthdays of the men behind the creation — I explain more about my approach here, in a post earlier this summer.
However, I did find it a little strange for there to be two such Doodles, both clearly honoring the contributions of men (and thus continuing the Doodle tradition of giving too little credit to women), in the same week. I won’t be including them in my 2012 statistics tracking the gender distribution of Doodles, but I do want to take this opportunity to highlight two fabulous women (one born on October 15th, and one on the 18th) that could have been considered by Google.
Mira Nair, born on October 15, 1957, is an Indian director and producer of some of the highest-grossing films helmed by women. I’ll admit it: this is a case of me honoring someone whose work I personally really, really love! Nair’s first major film, Salaam Bombay!, released in 1988, broke her into the film business, becoming India’s second nominee for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and winning multiple awards at major international film festivals. Nair is the director of Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair, and most recently Amelia, and her films have been honored with a range of international awards. She’s also one of very few women making it as a director in the Hollywood film system. According to the San Diego State University Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, women make up only 7% of directors of full-length feature films.
Beatrice Worsley was born on October 18, 1921 and was one of the first female computer scientists. Worsley was Mexican-Canadian, earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and physics in Toronto, wrote a master’s thesis at MIT, and completed her dissertation at Cambridge. She is known as both Canada’s first female computer scientist, potentially as the first women to earn a PhD in a field related to computing, and as the first person to write a dissertation based on modern computers.
Worsley went on to become one of two authors of the Transcode compiler, which allow simplified access to the Ferut computer for Cambridge’s researchers. If you’re interested in learning more about Worsley’s critical contributions to the development of computing and its applications, I highly recommend Scott M. Campbell’s biographical profile from the IEEE History of Computing series.