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Barbara Liskov, Weizmann Women and Science Award

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Barbara Liskov is now an institute professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professors Barbara Liskov and Daniella Goldfarb at the Women and Science talk.

Credit: Weizmann Institute of Science

"In 1972, when I joined MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), there was a faculty of 1,000. Ten of those were women," said  Barbara Liskov at the Weizmann Women and Science Award ceremony. "My husband and I attended a reception for new faculty that fall, and the chairman of the board walked up to us, turned to my husband and said, ‘Welcome to MIT, Professor Liskov!’ You can imagine the embarrassment that ensued when his mistake became apparent. But I have witnessed this same attitude much more recently."

Prof. Liskov has received numerous prizes and honors, including the John von Neumann Medal and the ACM A.M. Turing Award, for her critical contributions to the theoretical and practical foundations of modern programming languages and system design.

In her talk, Liskov described her career path, beginning with studies at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1957. There, she realized she had a flair for mathematics, and changed her major from physics to math. Afterward, in 1961, she applied to Princeton University for graduate studies but was turned down because she is a woman. "They informed me by postcard that they did not accept women. It was not personal; it was completely impersonal," she said.

From Weizmann Institute of Science
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