Happy #AdaLovelaceDay from EPDT – women in engineering

Author : Mark Gradwell, Editor

11 October 2017

Credit: chrisdorney/Shutterstock

Yesterday (Tuesday 10th October) was Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Founded in 2009 by prominent blogger, journalist, social technologist and co-founder of the Open Rights Group, Suw Charman-Anderson, it is now held every year on the second Tuesday of October. It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models to encourage more girls into STEM careers – and support women already working in STEM.

Many of you will be familiar with Ada Lovelace, the 19th century English mathematician often regarded as the first computer programmer for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Ada was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, creating the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. The Analytical Engine remained a vision, until Lovelace’s notes became one of the critical documents to inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s. Ada Lovelace died of cancer at 36, and her thwarted potential, and her passion and vision for technology, have made her a powerful symbol for modern women in technology.

The inspiration for Ada Lovelace Day came from psychologist Penelope Lockwood, who carried out a study which found that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male role models. “Outstanding women can function as inspirational examples of success,” she said, “illustrating the kinds of achievements that are possible for women around them. They demonstrate that it is possible to overcome traditional gender barriers, indicating to other women that high levels of success are indeed attainable.”

Credit: Shutterstock

Ada Lovelace Day aims to raise the profile of women in STEM by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire. This international day of celebration helps people learn about the achievements of women in STEM, inspiring others and creating new role models for young and old alike. It features a flagship Ada Lovelace Day Live! ‘science cabaret’ event in London, UK, at which women in STEM give short talks about their work or about other women who have inspired them, or perform short comedy or musical interludes with a STEM focus. This year's event was held on Tuesday 10th October 2017 at The Royal Institution in London. These events are captured on video and can be viewed online on the official website, https://findingada.com/.

There is also plenty of buzz and action on Twitter around the hashtag, #AdaLovelaceDay – and the official Ada Lovelace Day website has a broad range of resources for anyone who wants to get involved, learn more or explore career options for women in STEM. Happy #AdaLovelaceDay from EPDT!

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