Happy Lady Ada Day!

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Happy Lady Ada Day!

Lady Ada Day celebrates the life of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and a woman credited as the world’s first computer programmer. She reportedly had no contact with her father and took up an interest in science instead of a life of letters.

From FindingAda.com, a web site that celebrates the life of Ada and female scientists everywhere:

In 1842 Lovelace translated a short article describing the Analytical Engine by the Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, for publication in England. (Mathematician Charles) Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood the machine so well.” The final article is over three times the length of the original and contains several early ‘computer programs,’ as well as strikingly prescient observations on the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and creation of music. Although Babbage and his assistants had sketched out programs for his engine before, Lovelace’s are the most elaborate and complete, and the first to be published; so she is often referred to as “the first computer programmer.” Babbage himself “spoke highly of her mathematical powers, and of her peculiar capability — higher he said than of any one he knew, to prepare the descriptions connected with his calculating machine.”

Software development and engineering are male-dominated fields, but there is a growing number of women making their mark in these areas. We’d like to hear from you about the unsung female programmers, engineers, and makers that you most admire.  Whom do you know who deserves a special shout out on Lady Ada Day?

12 thoughts on “Happy Lady Ada Day!

  1. lol says:

    There are too few women in Engineering?
    Correction, there are provably too few engineers… citation needed.

    I think whomever wrote this Article does not understand Simpson’s paradox, or know how awesome women are in general. People succeed because they work hard, and cooperate with their peer groups.

    The connotative tone of your logic is diminutive to scientists and engineers in general.

    1. Nick Normal says:

      I think whoever left this Comment fails to understand a conversation cannot be had on the Interwebs without a valid name and email. Just sayin’.

      1. miroslava von schlochbaum says:

        uhm…. since when is that true?

        1. Tyson Haverkort says:

          Since Slashdot first used the term ‘Anonymous Coward’ for comments without proper attribution ;)

          I believe that Nick is saying that without identifying themselves, the first comment could come across as trolling rather than the beginnings of a conversation.

          Also, I don’t believe the article says that there are too few women in engineering (which is subjective – and I tend to agree with), but rather that the fields of engineering and software development are dominated by men. This is a fact.

      2. lol says:

        I doubt this is a conversation or troll given the lack of a valid counter argument.
        Your comments may be something fictional, but it is not rational coherent thought.

        I am am insulted by these indignant comments, and hope Ada’s ghost haunts your CPU.

  2. lrwickerdesign says:

    I think getting the gals involved early and helping them gain the confidence they need to stand shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts will play the most important role going forward. I am happy to say I have seen more parents involving both boys and girls in activities that challenge the notion that girls are bad at math and boys hate dolls (my little bronys, anyone?).

  3. Katie Wilson says:

    In response to Stett’s prompt: “We’d like to hear from you about the unsung female programmers, engineers, and makers that you most admire. Whom do you know who deserves a special shout out on Lady Ada Day?” I’m going to give a big shout out to my mom, who was a research scientist at Berkeley for 10 years, and the only woman in her department. She can explain just about anything the human body does in fabulous and often visually rich analogies, and has been sharing her knowledge as an A+P teacher for the last 15 years. GO MOM!

  4. Barry Briggs says:

    Grace Hopper come to mind on Lady Ada Day.

  5. Balloondoggle says:

    A shout-out to my 7yo daughter, Emily. Recently, our microwave died. Once I determined that we would replace it rather than repair, her response was “Can we take apart the old one?” When we got the fan out, she immediately wanted to save it to build a hovercraft. She has previously helped me strip down old printers and a Keurig coffee maker. She has her own set of tools that occupy a position of honor among her favorite dolls and is always the first (often only) child to ask if she can help on a project. And she never lets us forget that she is all girl!

  6. lol says:

    Everything manufactured by people in this world was once a dream friend.

  7. MAKE | Your Comments says:

    […] the article Happy Lady Ada Day!, Facebook user Rob Kern […]

  8. Software Engineering – super-structure says:

    […] Lovelace pictured with her table of algorithms created as an example […]

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Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook