by Lee A. Hart
You are old, mother Hopper, the young man said.
Your brain must be nothing but suet.
Yet you made that computer balance the books.
My gawd, how did you do it?
When I was a girl, computers were jerks.
It took talent to train them at all.
So I taught 'em a language and put 'em to work.
It came to be known as COBOL.
You're a girl, mother Hopper, the young man said,
And girls can't do science or math.
Yet it is said you do sums in your head,
In hex-a-ma-decimal at that.
I taught math at Vassar, have a Yale Ph.D.
I programmed computers for fun.
Oh please! I have forty college degrees,
So don't tell me women are dumb.
You are weak, mother Hopper, the young man said.
Too small to enlist, plain to see.
Yet you get saluted by Admirals and all.
Pray tell, how can that be?
A Navy career's for the smart, not the strong.
I served them with rules, tried and true.
Manage things, and lead people (and don't get it wrong)!
Respect your superiors, and care for your crew.
You are ill, mother Hopper, the young man said.
And may not have long to live.
But somehow you've won, and got mighty deeds done.
What final advice can you give?
If you want my ghost, just say
"We've always done it this way."
And I'll haunt you for hours a day.
Now be quiet; and be on your way!
Grace Hopper was an amazing woman. A pioneer in the development of computers, she indeed had 40 college degrees, and was an admiral in the US Navy. Look her up on wikipedia and prepare to be amazed. Here are a few of her quotes:
- You manage things; you lead people.
- We go overboard on management and forgot about leadership.
- It's easier to apologize than to get permission.
- Leadership is a two-way street. Loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one's superiors; and care for one's crew.
- If you do it once, it's an accident. Do it twice, it's a coincidence. So do it a third time and prove you were right!
- If you want my ghost just say, "We've always done it that way", and I will haunt you for 24 hours.
- The man who says it can't be done should not interrupt the woman who is
A poem by Lee A. Hart, © 1984-2019 by Lee A. Hart. Created 3/6/2012. Last updated 3/1/2019.
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