Oct 11 2016

Ada Lovelace: Celebrating a Pioneer for Women in Technology

In honor of the first woman in computer science, STEM enthusiasts celebrate Ada Lovelace Day.

At a time when education for most women was still hard to come by, Ada Lovelace — born Augusta Ada Byron in 1815 — sought out the near-impossible: an education in mathematics and science.

The daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, History.com reports that Lovelace was tutored heavily in logic and reason because her mother didn’t want her to inherit her father’s moody romanticism.

Thanks to Lady Byron, young girls all over the world have a STEM hero to look up to.

Portrait of Ada Lovelace by Alfred Edward Chalon via Wikimedia Commons

Creating a Scientific Role Model

Noted by many as the first computer programmer — male or female — Lovelace is famous for her work on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine, which CNET notes was one of the first ideas for a general-purpose computer.

Though the machine was never completed, CNET reports that Lovelace’s notes and algorithms were used by Alan Turing in the 1940s as he worked on the first modern computers.

On BizTech, we touted Lovelace as one of the “Mothers of Technology” for her work on the world’s first computer algorithm.

She is also quite important for young women in STEM, so much so that social technologist Suw Charman-Anderson founded Ada Lovelace Day in 2009. It’s celebrated on the second Tuesday of October.

“We hope that by taking part in Ada Lovelace Day, people will learn about the amazing achievements of our unsung heroines,” Charman-Anderson says in a Forbes interview.

It’s been noted in a study from Women Who Code that women who go into the tech field strongly desire role models; more than 60 percent of female leaders in STEM fields said having more women on their teams would be beneficial.

Charman-Anderson told Forbes that she gathers such role models together each year for Ada Lovelace Day Live, a “science cabaret” event held in London for women in STEM to give talks and demonstrations.

Events for women (young and old) to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day have popped up all over the world, and more are added each year.

A Name Renowned in Tech

Even before the launch of Ada Lovelace Day, the STEM pioneer has been honored throughout the tech world.

In 1981, the U.S. Defense Department their programming language Ada, after Lovelace.

More recently, Adafruit, a female-owned, open-source hardware company that makes things like Arduino boards, was named as a nod to Lovelace. Its founder, Limor “Ladyada” Fried was the first female engineer to be featured on the cover of Wired.

To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, the company has posted a series of articles on its website honoring notable women in tech.

“Today we will be sharing the stories of women that we think are modern day ‘Adas,’ alongside historical women that have made impacts in science and math,” Adafruit’s website wrote.

To contribute to the conversation or see what others have been saying, tweet #ALD16.


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