NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award

The NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award recognizes technical women whose lifetime contributions have significantly impacted the landscape of technological innovation, amplifying the importance of capitalizing on the diverse perspectives that girls and women can bring to the table. Pioneer in Tech Award recipients also serve as role models whose legacies continue to inspire generations of young women to pursue computing and make history in their own right.

Congratulations to the 2018 recipients of the NCWIT Pioneer in Tech Award — Lorinda Cherry and Evi Nemeth!

Lorinda and Evi were honored at the 2018 NCWIT Summit.

After her graduation in 1969, Lorinda Cherry worked for a few years as a Fortran programmer, but she found it “very boring” to constantly write programs based on someone else’s ideas. She yearned to work on systems, and she eventually found a home at Bell Labs, where she worked on the nascent Unix operating system.

Lorinda thrived in this collaborative and creative environment, which encouraged programmers to imagine and execute projects that interested them. She worked on several influential mathematical tools, including a desk-calculator language (bc); TeX and eqn, both typesetting systems for publishing mathematical formulae; and a method of data compression based on trigram statistics. One of the first spell-check programs, typo, evolved from her statistics work. She went on to help develop the editing program Writer’s Workbench. Lorinda received her master’s degree in computer science from Stevens Institute of Technology.

Evi Nemeth is admired worldwide as the lead author of the handbooks known as the “bibles” of system administration: Unix Systems Administration Handbook (1989, 1995, 2000) and LINUX Administration Handbook (2001, 2007). Her popular class on “Hot Topics in System Administration” was a fixture at the annual Usenix LISA conference. Sometimes called the “godmother of system administration,” Evi was a mentor to many middle school, high school, and undergraduate students.

Evi earned her PhD in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo, Ontario, in 1971 and taught in the Computer Science department at the University of Colorado - Boulder from 1980 to 2001. She also collaborated extensively with the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) at the University of California - San Diego, beginning with a guest faculty position in 1998. After retirement, Evi spent much of her time sailing. She was lost at sea in June 2013.


Past Pioneer in Tech Award winners include Computer Scientist and Programmer Jean E. Sammet who is best-known for her work on FORMAC, Mathematicians Patricia Palombo and Lucy Simon Rakov who worked on NASA's Project Mercury at a time when computing was in its infancy, IBM's Eleanor Kolchin, NASA Mathematicians Katherine Johnson for her critical space flight trajectories and Dr. Christine Darden for her expertise in the areas of the sonic boom, Cynthia Solomon for her development of Apple Logo, as well as as well as 2008 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Turing Award Recipient Barbara Liskov who is one of the first women in the U.S. to get a PhD from a computer science department.