Diversity & inclusion, Women in tech

Grace Hopper and her impact on Nuance employees

Grace Hopper’s thoughts on innovation, leadership and speaking the truth are still relevant today. She continues to inspire us all! Hear what her quotes mean to Nuance employees in their lives and work.

Meredith Mascolo joined Nuance in 2013 and is the Senior Manager, Communications. A perfect job for her, as she loves words, puns and idioms. She’s also the community manager for our company intranet. Meredith earned a B.M. in music education from Oberlin Conservatory and a M.S. in Administrative Studies, Innovation and Technology from Boston University. She is a classically trained violinist who enjoys playing her 5-string electric at yoga classes and other musical projects. She loves reading, cooking and yoga.

We draw inspiration from others. And when that person is Grace Hopper, computer scientist, naval officer, professor and role model – there is so much to draw on. She was one of the first three modern “programmers” and was the developer of the very first compiler for a computer programming language. That alone was an accomplishment, but she was so much more. She was a trail blazer, a pioneer, an innovator and a visionary – someone who we can, and should, all look up to, no matter what field we’re in. Her impact is immeasurable. How can we continue to benefit from her wisdom? By reminding ourselves of her words, and through introspection and reflection on our own experiences and work. At Nuance, we innovate, problem solve, dream of the next game-changing paradigm and execute each day. We do our best to carry Grace Hopper’s spirit in all that we do. 

This year Nuance was a corporate gold sponsor for the (virtual) Grace Hopper Celebration. We asked a few Nuance employees that attended the conference to choose a Grace Hopper quote and share what it means to them. Here’s what they had to say. 

“No innovation or standard should be rejected as too costly without careful evaluation of the ‘cost of not doing it.’” -Grace Hopper 

Be brave! Push the frontiers! It is hard to take a leap to the next best thing. Whether it is tooling, process, or technology, we must envision constant improvement with innovation. Improved standards let us build excellent and secure products more quickly across a wider more diverse community of engineers. The long-term cost of not investing is often difficult to estimate, but there are case studies for those companies who chose not to be brave! -Maggie, Principal Development Operations Engineer 

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

During my career I’ve been fortunate to work with innovative teams that are constantly pushing the boundaries of what has been done to design something better. At Nuance, I get to speak with healthcare leaders to ensure that we build technology that isn’t beholden to the process of how we’ve always delivered care, but instead will change what we do in the future. – Allison, Senior Principal, Strategy 

“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” -Ruth Bader Ginsburg | “Don’t manage people, you manage things. You lead people.” -Grace Hopper 

Both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Grace Hopper embodied the struggle and the possibilities of what all women can achieve. Even when faced with adversity from a society unwilling to give women a chance to aspire towards independence and choice, they paved their own paths. Completely alone, they could not have achieved their many accomplishments. On the paths they created, they led people along the way.  

Advocacy matters. It’s vital for women and marginalized groups to have mentors, allies, advocates and to have a seat at the proverbial tables of business and society. Without this type of support, we will miss out on the full potential of women and many groups of people striving to making our imperfect world and our imperfect society better. -Michele, Program Manager, R&D Transformation Initiatives  

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions.” -Grace Hopper 

This quote from Grace Hopper is incredibly relevant to our world today – to our health, our children’s education, our personal goals, our scientific endeavors, and our business outcomes. This is about the search for truth. Accurate data is crucial for making smart decisions and taking intelligent risks. Facts are key. When we measure accurately, we know exactly where things stand.  Part of my identity is “trusted advisor.” I advise not because I am the expert, but because I strive to obtain the most accurate data available and keep my finger on the source of truth. -Amy, Senior Director, Program Management and R&D Business Operations – Enterprise and Core Tech R&D 

“They told me computers can only do arithmetic.” -Grace Hopper 

If a man had invented the first computer, it would be celebrated as a modern marvel, capable of anything. Grace Hopper’s invention was a breakthrough, yet she was told it wouldn’t be anything more than a glorified calculator. To this day men continue to set limits, minimize, or belittle achievements made by intelligent, capable, and ambitious women. Together, we can and will affect positive change so that all achievements are recognized, regardless of gender and the person behind it. -David, Senior Principal Employee Communications Manager  

“The glass is neither empty nor half full. It’s simply larger than it needs to be.” -Grace Hopper 

This wise quote describes how we can create better solutions when we do not let ourselves be constrained by someone else framing an issue. When I get urgent customer requests about a ‘half-full glass’ – they are focused on what they don’t have. Rather than immediately ‘fill the glass’ and close the case, I take a broader look at each customer, I find out what they are really looking to achieve, and my solution is often to design a better glass that ultimately benefits a larger customer base. -Karima, Senior Product Support Technical Design, OnPremise Technical Support (Montreal, CA) 

“You don’t manage people, you manage things. You lead people.” -Grace Hopper 

When I was in business school, I came across this quote for the first time and it stayed with me. As a servant leader, I have made it my goal to motivate people and help them grow. The management part applies to resources only. It is only the resources that need to be managed! -Debjani, Director Software Engineering – Cloud COE

“To me programming is more than an important practical art. It is also a gigantic undertaking in the foundations of knowledge.” -Grace Hopper 

This quote explains that programming is both an art and a science. From an art standpoint, this is how we find a creative solution to a given problem. And all artists need to master the foundation of their chosen medium – this is the “science” aspect. Women were not seen as scientific thinkers back in the day, and Grace Hopper went against all odds and showed the world that women are capable artistic scientists, and Nuance is filled with the same type of extraordinary Women! -Rosina, Principal, Talent Acquisition Partner