The Department of Computer Science is proud to announce the creation of the Beatrice “Trixie” Worsley Graduate Scholarship in Computer Science. This award, supplemented with matching funds by the University of Toronto, will provide annual funding for PhD candidates who have taken an active role in promoting women in the field of computer science.
The Worsley Scholarship was established by Professor Charlotte Froese Fischer of Gaithersburg, Maryland, in honour of the late Dr. Trixie Worsley, an alumna and former employee of the University of Toronto, and a trailblazer for women in the field of computer science. “Trixie had a broad background in the field of computers – theory, programming, systems,” Charlotte recalls. “Consequently, in the formative years of the discipline, she was able to provide unique insight into computer development.”
“The Worsley Scholarship, a fitting tribute to a pioneering scientist, will provide much-needed support to a graduate student who shares Dr. Trixie Worsley’s passion for championing women in computer science research,” noted department Chair Sven Dickinson. “We are grateful Professor Fischer chose to recognize her friend in this way.”
Among other contributions, Dr. Worsley (with Professor J. N. Patterson Hume) co-wrote Transcode, a programming system which allowed programmers to write instructions in a simplified language that would then be executed on the University of Toronto’s Ferut, the first commercial computer in existence (which came to the University of Toronto in 1952).
While Trixie’s academic work started with an undergraduate degree at U of T, she eventually made her way to Cambridge, where she received what is believed to be the very first computer science degree ever granted to a woman. Charlotte’s own career path took her to Cambridge a couple of years after Trixie, and the two eventually met when Charlotte ended up at the Computation Centre at the University of Toronto from 1956-57. The Computation Centre would eventually become the Department of Computer Science that it is today.
Charlotte, today a globally recognized mathematician and computer scientist herself, was struck by Trixie’s wry sense of humour and her ambitious, influential research: “After getting her master’s degree at MIT, Trixie built her own differential analyzer [a mechanical analog computer designed to solve differential equations by integration]… and later donated some of her papers to the Smithsonian Institute!”
Pictured above: Beatrice Worsley with FERUT. Circa 1952-58.