Why Ada Lovelace Day matters

Ada Lovelace Day celebrates women in science, highlighting role models to inspire the next generation

Reblogged from The Guardian

Happy Ada Lovelace Day everyone! Today is a day to celebrate inspirational women in science, technology, maths and engineering, in the hope that by shining a light on such people and increasing their visibility, they can inspire future generations.

Ada Lovelace Day was founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson, and part of her reason for doing this was a worry that women in tech were invisible. The idea was a positive one – rather than highlighting the problem, highlight the unseen women and shout from the rooftops about all the amazing things they’ve achieved. Ada Lovelace was an obvious choice of mascot for such an endeavour.

Lovelace was Lord Byron’s daughter, though she didn’t know her father very well. She was schooled in maths and science, unlike the majority of girls at the time she was growing up. Her social circle included Charles Babbage, and her grasp of the potential for his Analytical Engine has led her to be hailed as the first computer programmer.

Coming from a psychology background, I’m luckier than women in many other fields of science in that I’ve been surrounded by girls and women throughout my scientific education and academic career so far. My lab group is predominantly women, and my first first-author paper has an all-female author list.

However, the role models as I advance in my field get slightly thinner on the ground. There’s only one female professor in my department at Bristol. This isn’t to say there aren’t many brilliant women in psychology, though (I’ve written about plenty before), and this is great, because there’s some evidence that it’s more important for women to see female role models than it is for men to see male ones. But even in psychology there’s an imbalance, and it’s much more pronounced in other fields of science and tech. Read more>>