Arts / Media / Women in tech

Top Secret Rosies: documentary on original female computers [TRAILER]

The often forgotten story in the women in tech conversation is the focus of the ‘Top Secret Rosies’ documentary. It first debuted two and a half years ago but is still catching attention, including a Film Office screening this week. See the trailer.

Jean Bartik programs the ENIAC, the first computer, developed at Penn. (Photo courtesy of Penn Library)

Women used to be computers. Used in World War II efforts as the earliest computer programmers, young women with STEM backgrounds used math to help develop strategy for the American war effort.

This often forgotten women in tech story is the focus of the ‘Top Secret Rosies’ documentary that first debuted two and a half years ago but is still catching attention. Because, as computer programming has become so male dominated as something to overcome in the name of gender balance, that role still surprises people.

It’s a good thing then that filmmaker LeAnn Erickson, Associate Professor of Temple University’s film department, poured years of her life and career into helping those women tell their stories on film.

Documentarian LeAnn Erickson

Documentarian LeAnn Erickson

The film tells the fascinating story of four young Philadelphians, Marlyn Wescoff, Jean Bartik, and Doris and Shirley Blumberg, who were among a class enlisted by the U.S. Military during the war to work around-the-clock to solve highly advanced mathematical problems. Their daily, classified work involved creating precise ballistics trajectories of every weapon in the Army’s arsenal.

Bartik was also among the first programmers of the ENIAC, the first electronic general purpose computer, designed and engineered at University of Pennsylvania. The ENIAC made it possible to calculate math problems that had previously taken up to 40 hours of human calculation in 30 seconds.

This Wednesday night most recent screening at the Comcast Center, which brought around 30 attendees, was hosted in partnership with the Greater Philadelphia Film Office as part of a series highlighting diversity in film.

In the spirit of Women’s History Month, the screening offered a glimpse into the rich history of women in technology that is often missing and overlooked.

To hear about upcoming screenings visit here.

Watch the trailer below.

[vimeo 18327205 w=650 h=366]

Before you go...

Please consider supporting to keep our independent journalism strong. Unlike most business-focused media outlets, we don’t have a paywall. Instead, we count on your personal and organizational support.

3 ways to support our work:
  • Contribute to the Journalism Fund. Charitable giving ensures our information remains free and accessible for residents to discover workforce programs and entrepreneurship pathways. This includes philanthropic grants and individual tax-deductible donations from readers like you.
  • Use our Preferred Partners. Our directory of vetted providers offers high-quality recommendations for services our readers need, and each referral supports our journalism.
  • Use our services. If you need entrepreneurs and tech leaders to buy your services, are seeking technologists to hire or want more professionals to know about your ecosystem, has the biggest and most engaged audience in the mid-Atlantic. We help companies tell their stories and answer big questions to meet and serve our community.
The journalism fund Preferred partners Our services

Join our growing Slack community

Join 5,000 tech professionals and entrepreneurs in our community Slack today!


The Trump rally shooter perched on a building owned by American Glass Research. Here’s everything we know about it.

Quantum computing could be the next hot tech — if only that breakthrough would come

Here’s how the global tech outage impacted many of the vital systems across the mid-Atlantic region

Inside Philly City Hall’s new $6.85M lighting system, with hundreds of LEDs that dance with color

Technically Media