RLooking through most of the tales in history, we could be forgiven for assuming that women were not the warriors, great thinkers, or pioneering scientists who shaped and changed our world.
That men alone gave birth to art, produced literature, and fiercely challenged the status quo, while women functioned only in the domestic realm. But if the canon has perpetually erased the contribution of women and their work has been systematically discredited, devalued and derided, their light has stubbornly pierced the cracks.
The second Tuesday of each October marks Ada Lovelace Day, a day founded in 2009 by technologist Suw Charman-Anderson, to celebrate the achievements of women in Stem careers (science, technology, engineering and math), and was established at the memory of one in particular: Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer.
It is well established that male-dominated rod industries are harsh environments for women, who make up only 23 percent of the workforce. Just last week, a prominent scientist presented a lecture claiming that “physics was invented and built by men.” He obviously chose to ignore the contributions of Marie Curie, Lise Meitner and Chien-Shiung Wu.
Lovelace’s social status and liberal parents allowed him to be educated in subjects usually reserved for the men of his time. They allowed her to do things that most women couldn’t. She used her privilege to contribute to a work so ahead of its time that it took another hundred years to be fully understood. It’s something. For these reasons, she was a clear inclusion for this book on #RenegadeWomen.
Aada Lovelace (December 10, 1815 – November 27, 1852, United Kingdom) Mathematician and computer scientist
Although never fully recognized during her lifetime, Ada Lovelace’s work foreshadowed modern computing and earned her the nickname âEnchantress of Numbersâ.
Daughter of the romantic poet Lord Byron, Lovelace took math and science lessons – subjects often forbidden to girls at the time – at the insistence of her mother. At seventeen, she meets the mathematician Charles Babbage, inventor of the mechanical calculator, who will become her mentor.
Lovelace was quickly put in charge of translating an article into French on Babbage’s latest machine. In doing so, she went further by providing her own commentary on the subject. She speculated that Babbage’s machine had the potential to translate music, images, and text into digital form. Its notes were respected and published in 1843, but the theory inside was so revolutionary that it took over a century for it to be recognized as the first computer algorithm and Lovelace as the first computer programmer.
Lovelace died at the age of 36 in 1852 and has since received a host of posthumous accolades. In 1980, the US Department of Defense gave its name to a computer language, and Ada Lovelace Day is celebrated each October in recognition of her revolutionary contribution to computer technology.
Extract of ‘Elle: a celebration of 100 renegade women‘by Harriet Hall, published by Headline Home is now available, Â£ 12.99. You can buy it here