Ada Lovelace Day

It is one of the curses of being on the bold new frontier of global time (i.e. bang up next to the International Date Line) that I never find out about these things until they’re almost over!

March 24th is Ada Lovelace Day, intended to encourage blogging about women in technology, increase the visibility of women in technology, all that good stuff.

It’s named for Ada Lovelace, possibly the world’s first computer programmer (for all she was girl-shaped and even computers themselves were pretty pie-in-the-sky).

I don’t have a post prepped, unfortunately, so I just want to say that events like ALD are brilliant.

A few years back I managed to take some Gender Studies papers at uni as a way of getting enough points to complete my degree.  One of these was on feminist science studies, an area I’d never even heard about until the first day of class.

The very first lecture was basically a “Who’s Who” of women in science and technology.  And when the lecturer went around the group, asking people to name prominent women scientists they knew of, we came up with Marie Curie and Beatrice Hill Tinsley (go Kiwi!).  And that was it.  Clearly having anticipated this, we then spent an hour going through a potted history of women who made amazing discoveries and formulated brilliant theories … who we had never heard about.

Women like Hypatia, whose death is sometimes used as a marker of the end of the Hellenistic Age.

Women like Hildegard of Bingen, who was nothing short of brilliant in a crapload of different fields.

Women like Caroline Herschel, a great astronomer and one of the first paid female scientists in England.

If nothing else, I can only recommend checking out Wikipedia’s handy List of pre-21st Century Women Scientists.  If its size alone doesn’t surprise you, given how much we focus on the great men of science and technology, just check out what some of these people have managed to achieve despite the distinct disadvantage of being born female.


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