12 spectacular British women’s firsts

9. First female police officer

Edith Smith

In the early days of World War I, the Women Police Volunteers began running alongside the Metropolitan police. Their role’s were created, in part, due to the billeting of 14,000 soldiers in Grantham, which led to an increase in prostitution, and to deter the exploitation of refugees fleeing the Germans. However, they had no powers of arrest and no warrant cards, only identity cards. But the problems created in Grantham soon became so serious that the Town Council and local Watch Committee were persuaded by the Chief Constable to allow a woman to be sworn in with full powers of arrest.

In 1915, Edith Smith became the first woman police constable with full powers of arrest. After being sent to London for three weeks to observe WPS training, her duties were to deal with cases where women were involved primarily reducing the number of prostitutes in Grantham. She earned 2 for working seven days each week.

10. World’s first computer programmer

Augusta Ada Byron

Augusta Byron, now more commonly known as Ada Lovelace, was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron. A month after her birth, Lord Byron left England forever and died four months later. To fight depression, Byron’s mother started promoting her interest in mathematics and logic. As a young adult, she started a working relationship with mathematician Charles Babbage, who was known for his work on the Analytical Engine.

From 1842 to 1843, Byron translated an Italian article by military engineer Luihi Menabrea on the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the topic contained what could very well be considered an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. In essence: the first computer program. The Engine was never completed, however, so her code was never tested.

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