Making a career out of science, just like joining a religious order, requires dedication and discipline. Some tireless souls have managed to do both.
In 1965, Mary Kenneth Keller became the first woman to obtain a PhD in Computer Science. She was also a nun.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1913, Keller entered the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1932. Eight years later, she professed her vows, before obtaining B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from DePaul University in Chicago, where she became fascinated by the incipient field of computer science.
As a graduate student, she spent semesters at other schools, including New Hampshire’s Ivy League college Dartmouth, which at that time was not coeducational. For her, however, the school relaxed its policy on gender, and she worked in the computer center, where she contributed to the development of the BASIC programming language that became so instrumental to the early generation of programmers.