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  1. Blog
  2. Women to Know
  3. Last updated April 15, 2024

15 Grace Hopper Quotes to Live By

Wise words from an American hero

Grace Hopper
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was an undeniably inspirational leader. She was born in 1906 in New York City, and after earning her Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University, she embarked on a career that would revolutionize the burgeoning field of computing.

Hopper's groundbreaking contributions began with her programming work on the Harvard Mark I computer during World War II, where she demonstrated her aptitude for tackling complex computational challenges. Her development of the first compiler, a tool that translates source code into machine code, was a pivotal moment in the history of computing. This innovation paved the way for the creation of COBOL, a high-level programming language that would become foundational in business and government computing systems.

Despite facing significant obstacles as a woman in a predominantly male field, Hopper's determination propelled her forward. She joined the Navy Reserves during World War II, where her talent and leadership abilities quickly earned her recognition. Rising through the ranks to become a Rear Admiral, she became one of the highest-ranking women in the United States military.

Throughout her career, Hopper's contributions were widely celebrated. She received over 40 awards from prestigious societies and universities worldwide, recognizing her profound impact on the field of computer science. In 2016, her enduring legacy was honored with the posthumous award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Grace Hopper's story continues to inspire generations of women. Her unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of what was possible in computing, coupled with her trailblazing spirit, serves as a beacon of inspiration for those who dare to dream and defy convention. In a field where her presence was initially met with skepticism and resistance, she not only excelled, but left an indelible mark that continues to shape the landscape of technology today.

Grace Hopper's legacy reminds us that with courage, perseverance, and ingenuity, we can break barriers and change the world.

Read more: Why These 13 Male-Dominated Industries Are Good for Women’s Careers

15 Grace Hopper quotes to live by

1. “Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, 'We've always done it this way.' I try to fight that. That's why I have a clock on my wall that runs counter-clockwise.”

2. “A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for. Sail out to sea and do new things.”

3. “The glass is neither half empty nor half full. It's simply larger than it needs to be. It is easier to get forgiveness than permission.”

4. “I've always been more interested in the future than in the past.”

5. “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We've always done it this way.’”

6. “Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one's superiors; care for one's crew.”

7. “If it's a good idea, go ahead and do it. It is much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”

8. “Don't try to manage people; you manage things; you lead people.”

9. “One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.”

10. "You don't teach people how to be curious. You give them the tools through which they can express their curiosity."

11. "The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones."

12. "You don't have to know everything. You just need to know where to find it."

13. "A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline."

14. "The ladder of success is best climbed by stepping on the rungs of opportunity."

15. "The most important thing I've accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people."

Read more: 32 Powerful & Empowering Michelle Obama Quotes

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