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Admiral Grace Hopper, 2001

The highest-ranking woman in U.S. Navy history at the time of her 1986 retirement, "Amazing Grace" Hopper pioneered the idea of a machine-independent programming language that closely resembled English, as opposed to machine code or assembly languages. She brilliantly executed upon the concept in 1952 by developing the "Flow-Matic" compiler, and seven years later, an improved version of her invention could compile its own language: COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language). Although Hopper met resistance from her male peers, some of whom even took credit for the idea, she persisted and became forever known for a landmark contribution to the IT industry.