The Legacy of Ada Lovelace
An icon is a point of visual attention. On this day many of us will focus attention on Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace because she is acknowledged as the first computer programmer. Mrs. King did her programming old school style, on paper. In 1841 there were no computers.
There are foolish people who take joy in dismissing the achievement of other people. Some do it for kicks, for ratings or to advance a narrow world view. Yet as much as they try to suppress the existence of others not like themselves the icons find a way to inspire the next generation.
Brief Biography of Ada Lovelace
Ada was a fusion of poetry, love, heartbreak and mathematics. When your father is the poet Lord Byron who, how can I say this tactfully, really liked exploring the female form. To be truthful, Lord Byron liked exploring anybody's form.
There was a marriage. However five weeks after Ada was born Lady Byron had enough of Lord Byron. And if you knew some of the mess that Lord Byron got into you would have given him the boot too.
Lady Byron did not want to entertain the possibility of having another poet in her home and started Ada on the road to mathematics. There is an excellent short biography of Ada by Dr. Betty Toole on the Women and Mathematics page from Agnes Scott College.
An icon not only represents an achievement but also inspires others to walk ahead and explore new ground. The reason we celebrate Lady Lovelace is because so many other women have made huge contributions to math, science and technology. Women like Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, Erna Schneider Hoover, Ellen Ochoa and Helen Grainer become new icons to help the next generation see the impossible and make it visible.
There Are Women in Technology
Despite all of the lamentations about the lack of women in math and technology there are women present. Go to web sites like GirlsInTech.net and you will discover women in the sciences and technology fields that are actively networking and communicating with each other. Be sure to read about Leah Busque, Danielle D. Duplin, Christina Wong and Sophie Farrell.
If we don’t tell our stories, who will?
What About the Future?
There are other women who are moving forward in math and computer sciences. In closing, I like to introduce you to Sidra who wants you to know why she is passionate about Computer Science.
During Women’s History Month we take the time to reflect on those who moved others by their thoughts, inspiration and actions. We can honor our historical past and prepare to make room for the women who will inspire us in the future.
Alice.org From Carnegie Mellon University this is a free computer tutorial software that teaches programming skills with versions for PC, Mac and Linux.
From the Girls Scouts of the U.S. Girls Go Tech has games and information about math, science and technology.
The Adventures of Josie True, A free online game of time travel and historical discoveries.
Brain Cakes is a networking, information and hub site for 11 to 17 year-olds to talk math and science.
Engineer Your Life – A guide for high school girls to explore the world of Engineering.
For the Ladies:
Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology this is a place to find out what efforts are being made to increase the number of women in science and technology.
Girls In Tech.net – is a social networking and information exchange for women in the science and technology industries or those that want to be. There are regional meet-ups and opportunities to talk with a diverse group of women in a variety of industries.