What’s Ada Lovelace Day? Ada Lovelace Day was founded by Suw Charman-Anderson and aims to raise the profile of women inscience, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. This international day of celebration helps people learn about the achievements of women in STEM (science, tech, engineering and maths), inspiring others and creating new role models for young and old alike.
Ada Lovelace Day:
Who’s Ada? Ada Lovelace is widely held to have been the world’s first computer programmer. Ada worked alongside inventor Charles Babbage, Lovelace was intrigued by his Analytical Engine and in 1842, she translated a description of it by italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea. Babbage asked her to expand the article and this was when she wrote several early ‘computer programs’.
In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day, I wanted to share a few inspiring pioneer women in STEM, role models from the past and present:
1. Anita Borg: Borg was the founding director of the Institute for Women and Technology (IWT) up until her untimely death in April 2003. Beginning in 1997, the institute was supported and funded by Xerox. Borg’s goals for the institute were threefold: 1.to bring non-technical women into the design process 2. encourage more women to become scientists and 3. help the industry, academia and the government accelerate these changes. The IWT now named The Anita Borg Institute continues to play a huge part in increasing the impact of women on all aspects of technology, and improving the positive impact of technology on the world’s women.
2. Meg Whitman: Acting as the CEO of eBay since March 1998, Meg has taken the company from fewer than 100 employees to over 9,000 employees world wide. Meg was also named the most powerful woman in business by Fortune magazine in 2004.3. Marissa Mayer: who was the first female engineer at Google and now ranks among their most influential decision-makers. Since Google Mayer now works with Yahoo influencing how millions of people around the globe access information.
4. Emmy Noether: German Mathematician Emmy Noether (1882-1935) was described by Albert Einstein as “the most important women in the history of mathematics. “ With her ground breaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics, she revolutionized the theories of rings, fields and algebras. Her ‘Noether’s Theorem explained certain fundamentals in physics.5. Katherine Johnson: Katherine is an African-American physicist and visionary who is responsible for calculating the trajectory for 1969 Apollo 11 flight, which landed the first ever humans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. She made significant contributions to America’s aeronautics and space programs with the early application of digital electronic computers at NASA, her courage and perseverance helped to lead the way for both women and African-Americans in technical fields.
I’d like to dedicate this post to the most inspiring pioneer woman I know, my Mother Linda Macaulay (B.Sc, M.Sc, PhD, CEng, Cert. Ed., FBCS) Emeritus Professor of Information System Design Manchester Business School and Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Malaysia; twice holder of the prestigious IBM Faculty Award and a Fellow of the British Computer Society. She is a STEM Ambassador and until recently she was co-Director of the Centre for Service Research and Principal Investigator on the SSME UK network project and in 2012 published a book of Case Studies in Service Innovation. Mum you are the best!
In spite of all this female talent, there still remains an unsettling gender disparity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Annual celebrations such as the Ada Lovelace Day and groups like the Manchester Girl Geeks, who meet regularly to encourage girls and women both young and old to pursue their love of STEM are living proof that the future is bright and the gender gap will one day be a thing of the past!
Do you have a female role model working in STEM today or from the past?