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Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

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Who was Ada Lovelace? Why is there an Ada Lovelace Day? Those questions and more as we come together to celebrate!

Ada Lovelace is said to be the first computer programmer. Not the first female computer programmer mind you, the first ever, male or female. She worked closely with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine and is seen as being the author of the first algorithm designed to be read by a machine. So it stands to reason that an organization would use her as a symbol for women in what is commonly abbreviated as “STEM”. STEM simply stands for sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics – a world dominated by men.

Penelope Lockwood, a psychologist at the University of Toronto, found that women benefit more from having female role models than men do having male role models.

Outstanding women can function as inspirational examples of success, 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. — Penelope Lockwood, Finding Ada

Unfortunately, in the realm of science and math based fields, there aren’t many women who are heralded as much as men. This is not due to a lack of women in the field however. Enter Ada Lovelace Day.

Celebrated the world over, women and men are gathering in various places to honor not only Ada Lovelace, but also the multitudes of women who have gone before in the fields of science and math. One of the largest celebrations is located this year at Imperial College London in which many women from various fields will show off their skills. In addition, Brown University is hosting a “wikipedia edit-a-thon” in which students are invited to gather together and edit wikipedia to include some of the forgotten or less represented women in STEM history.

Anne Fausto-Sterling is the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Biology at Brown University and with Maia Weinstock, the two are the forces behind today’s “edit-a-thon”.

It has a kind of guerrilla warfare aspect to it that appeals to me, I go back to the ’60s in terms of my activism. Anybody can do it, but in addition to having metaphoric value it has a real corrective value. — Anne Fausto-Sterling, Brown University

When it comes to providing information on the women in STEM who have perhaps been brushed under the rug of history, Wikipedia is just one outlet. Women the internet over have come together in hopes of shining a light on this area of history. A good example would be the Women Rock Science tumblr which showcases not only women in history, but also up and coming young women in the field of math and science.

So now what are your plans to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day? Let us know down in the comments below!

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