Hat tip to NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for their photo of an exhibition celebrating the contribution of Maryland women to science and engineering
Today marks the fifth annual celebration of women in science, engineering, technology and maths. An important occasion when you realise that 17 percent of Britain’s information technology workforce is female, but that by 2043 it is estimated that less than 1 percent of the technology sector will be made up of women.
Who was Ada?
Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, but was abandoned by her father when she was a month old. Her mother was determined that Ada wouldn’t follow in Byron’s literary footsteps, and so ensured she had a world-class education in mathematics: more than somewhat unusual for a woman born in 1815.
Years later, as a close friend of mathematician Charles Babbage, she was asked to translate a lecture he had given on the Analytical Engine. But she did more than that.
The world’s first computer programmer
Ada Lovelace expanded upon Babbage’s theories, and importantly described an algorithm for the Analytical Engine to compute an established sequence of numbers. In doing so she cemented her place in history as the first computer programmer.
It is for this reason that she is held up as a role model for women in science and engineering today: proof that gender is no barrier to success in the field.
Celebrate your inspiration
Ada Lovelace day encourages people to talk about the women who’s work they admire, and who have inspired them in the career they follow today.
Turbine is a firm believer in recognising women of extraordinary scientific talent, and in fact the current version of Turbine is named after Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.
So, who’s your heroine?