Ada Lovelace Day was launched in 2009 with a simple pledge on British civil action site, Pledgebank. Nearly 2,000 people signed up to blog about a woman in technology whom they admired on 24 March. The day was an astounding success, with contributors writing blog posts, newspaper columns and even a webcomic, Sydney Padua’s Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. The media covered Ada Lovelace Day with enthusiasm, including coverage from The Guardian, The Telegraph, the BBC and Computer Weekly amongst others.
In 2010, we had involvement from over 2,000 people who wrote about the women they admire. We held our first official event, with a keynote speech from technology journalist Maggie Philbin, most famous for her work on Tomorrow’s World.
2011 saw the first Ada Lovelace Day Live event, hosted by BCSWomen and featuring Helen Arney, Maggie Philbin, Gia Milinovich, Helen Keen, Kate Smurthwaite, Sara Pascoe, Dr Sue Black and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock. BCSWomen also organised the Android Extravaganza, an afternoon event where people learnt how to create an Android app. We also had seven grassroots events organised in the UK, US and online.
In 2012, we partnered with the Women’s Engineering Society and held ALD Live at The IET. Our event featured the WES Karen Burt Award, with performances from Helen Arney, Dr Suzie Sheehy, Gia Milinovich, Dr Helen Scales, Helen Keen, Dr Alice Bell, Sarah Angliss and Sydney Padua. We also collaborated with the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment and the London Games Festival to organise the XX Games Jam, and all-female two day event in which teams competed to design and build the best computer game. And the Royal Society held a Women in Science themed Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon in association with Wikimedia UK. In all, there were 25 independently-organised grassroots events in the UK, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden and the USA, as well as online.