Ada Lovelace Day home for lost posts

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Posted in Ada Lovelace Day 2009.


  1. I would like on this day for us to remember Rosalind Franklin who was instrumental in the discovery of the helical structure of DNA and who was cruelly robbed of her Nobel by fate and circumstance. Watson, in his racy book on he and Crick discovering DNA, gave the impression that her contribution was trivial, which it was not, and that she did not understand her own data, which in fact she did. Were it not for the particular crystallographic picture of the helix (picture 51) she sent Watson and Crick, they might never have gotten where they did, certainly not in the time they did – and Linus Pauling was hot on their heels. Her boss, Maurice Wilkins, who shared the Nobel with Watson and Crick, was not that appreciative of her talents either. Perhaps I am being unfair, but it is not inconceivable that Wilkins was awarded the Nobel due to his administrative position rather than his intellectual contribution. Rosalind Franklin got a rough deal in more ways than one and she should not be forgotten, especially on this day.

  2. A Woman Who Makes a Difference

    Ada Lovelace Day is a day on which to honor the many women in information technology who make a difference. I write to honor Susan Gerhart. She is a computer scientist who is noted for her research work in formal methods and in software testing.

    Recently, Susan has turned her attention and considerable expertise to issues of making the Web accessible to those with limited sight. Her web sites, and, provide a wonderful set of essays on how life changes as one’s sight dims. Susan explains “how to adjust to vision loss with class, using technology”. Her websites provide excellent analyses of assistive tools such as screen readers that permit a person with limited sight to acquire information and interact on the Web. Susan exhibits deep understanding of web-site development techniques that when used make a site friendly to the un-sighted – or quite unusable.
    Susan goes to great length to communicate to a broad community how those with limited sight can expand their world – with class – by using appropriate technology.

    Especially on Ada Lovelace Day, Susan deserves our applause.

  3. Mary Lou Jepsen is the person I’m promoting, developer of the One Laptop Per Child programme. I’m amazed at her ambition and vision, a woman who’s re-shaped and innovated computer technology in a life-enhancing way.

    One Laptop Per Child set out to produce a one hundred dollar computer for children in developing countries. They need to run on less energy and the screen to be viewable in bright sunlight. It’s described as a pioneering though “troubled” project but Mary Lou remained committed.

    She’s well known, so apologies if others have blogged about her too. But I do find her an inspiration. Especially as she’s also come through a life-threatening illness too.

  4. Pingback: Ada Lovelace Day - Women of Technology » SisterSledgeSays

  5. 1st programmer honoured

    Today, Ada Lovelace has been remembered world-wide in an international linking using the programming she invented as the basis for this new communication media that has altered the way we all communicate.

    She is an inspiration world-wide.

  6. I am so lucky to know heaps of inspirational Australian women in the field of IT and IS. Since I can only nominate one of you, I’m going to say that Anita Prabhu, former President of ACS-W has been a huge support to me during my *formative* years in my career and is someone I have always looked up to for her fantastic attitude and committment to getting more women into IT careers and advancing the field in general. Thanks so much Anita and all the other inspiring women I know. You know who you are!

  7. My honoree on Ada Loveless Day is Grace Murray Hopper. You can read about her at and

    I’m not the first to blog about Grace on Ada’s day. There’s a nice write-up at

    I was privileged to hear Rear Admiral Hopper speak at a convention in the early 1980’s (also HER 80’s!). In addition to many of the things you hear quoted about her (the foot of wire, the first computer bug, etc.), she told about having seen Haley’s Comet in 1910. She recalled how her father had held her up to the kitchen window to see it, and assured her that she would live to see it again. This incident really touched me, and so I wrote a poem about it at the end of 1985, to welcome the new year of 1986.

    Writers often cite her father’s confidence in Grace’s ability to master whatever field she chose to pursue. This support is seen as a factor in her great success, yet Ada Lovelace was largely ignored by her father, Lord Byron.

    There’s nature and there’s nurture, Ada and Grace.

    Let’s remember both.

  8. The education of girls was still considered largely unnecessary when DOROTHY CROWFOOT HODGKIN was born on 12 May 1910, in Egypt, where her father was an inspector of education for Egypt and Sudan. Her introduction to education, and that of other fortunate girls at that time (such as the famous Mitford girls) was largely the result of their self-educated (and admittedly wealthy) mothers who organised small private classes for their daughters through the Parents’ National Educational Union. She was “captured for life” by chemistry and in particular crystals, and is now generally regarded as one of the foremost scientists in the technique of x-ray crystallography, a technique discovered in 1912 which uses x-ray photographs to ‘see’ the arrangement of atoms in crystals, and can therefore establish the structures of important molecules. From setting up her own laboratory in the attic at home, to fighting to be allowed to join the boys in chemistry classes at secondary school, she went on to carry out ground-breaking research in both Cambridge and Oxford. She married Thomas Hodgkin in 1937, but continued to publish under the name of Dorothy Crowfoot until 1949, when she was pressured to give her full name as Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin on her first major publication on the penicillin structure. Among her most influential early work were the determination of the structures of both penicillin and insulin. While actively encouraging the establishment of the first computing facilities in Oxford in the 1950s Dorothy took the opportunity to calculate the atomic positions of vitamin B12 on one of the world’s first electronic computers, the U.S. National Bureau of Standards western automatic computer. Working out from the ring-shaped nucleus of a molecule of 100 atoms, by 1957 Dorothy had solved the full structure of vitamin B12. For this she was awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry in 1964. She is only the third woman after Marie Curie and her daughter Irene Joliot-Curie to be recognized in chemistry, the fifth woman to win any science Nobel and she remains the only British female laureate. Dorothy Hodgkin expanded the technology of crystallography through her many discoveries and helped to establish one of the pillars of contemporary science: the use of molecular structure to explain biological function. Yet how many know her name?

  9. I want to acknowledge the women who have directly affected my path in technology (and art) – Thecla Schiphorst at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver Canada , through her inspiring and innovative approach and art/ technology works as well as bringing me in to assist her in her work form 2002-2005. I also want to acknowledge Susan Kozel, initially at Simon Fraser and now at SMARTLab in the UK and other institutions, who took me on as a student to advise in my masters and now phd, and has encouraged and mentored me in art and technology through my burgeoning art/ technology academic art / tech career. Last but not in any way least, perhaps most, I want to acknowledge Lizbeth Goodman, who took a chance on me in her very exclusive phd program in Media and Technology in London. She is an inspiration due to her tireless work to try help primarily women excel both in acadamia and art, but also in life through her work trying to use technology to help: women in danger in various parts of the world, adults and children with disabilities and others in the community and the world that can use technology to make their lives better. I feel honoured to be taken into her nurturing and exciting community of amazing artists and technologists.

  10. I want to add that Lizbeth Goodman is the Director of the SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, UEL, London, UK.

    I also want to acknowledge several other close friends in technology art whom are amazing and valued and will do great things as well: Lone Koefoed Hansen, Department of Aesthetic Studies at Aarhus University, in Aarhus, Denmark, who recently finished her phd, focussing on interface culture, art and experience design within ubiquitous or pervasive computing in particular new technologies (from mobile phones to wearable computing). Cindy Poremba – Concordia University, Montreal, focusing on documentary videogames: games that represent non-fiction subjects in a way that might be considered documentary; she also is a curator in videogame art. Kasia Molga, SMARTlab, University East London, a fine / interdisciplinary artist is concerned with the intimate and personal qualities of a mobile phone as a platform delivering visual art content.
    Finally, i very much admire Valerie Lamontagne – Concordia University, Montreal, is a Montréal-based performance/digital media artist, freelance art critic and independent curator, her phd focusses on relational performance art utilizing emerging ubiquitous technologies.
    I believe its important to recognize your peers as much as “great” or well known people, as they are and will be great in their own way too. These women greatly inspire me.

  11. I posted this blog on our internal social media site at work.
    Women in Technology–Ada Lovelace Day
    Ada Lovelace Day provides time to focus on women and how they excel in their technology role. I always liked science and math, and lucky for me my parents encouraged my studies. Mulling on this day I decided to review the Nobel Prize list, which started in 1901, and identify women awarded for scientific achievements. One I knew but the others I did not, so I enjoyed reading about them. Marie Curie, chemist and physicist, became the first person to win two Nobel prizes for her pioneering work in radioactivity. Her daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie, won the Nobel prize for Chemistry along with her husband by discovering artificial radioactivity. Gerty Coribecame the third woman and first American woman to win a Nobel prize in Science. She contributed to the team discovery on how glycogen breaks down and resynthesizes in the body and won the Physiology or Medicine award. Dorothy Hodgin discovered X-ray crystallography used to determine the three dimensional structures of biomolocules, for which she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Barbara McClintock, a renowned ctyogeneticist and Nobel Prize recipient for Physiology or Medicine, studied chromosomes and how they change during reproduction in maize. Rita Levi-Montalcini(still alive, April 22 she will be 100) worked with a colleague to discover Nerve growth factor and received the prize for Medicine. Gertrude B. Elion developed many new drugs, designing them to kill or inhibit the the reproduction of pathogens with out harming the host cells. She was also the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1991, as well as receiving the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard for her work in genetic control of embryonic development won the Nobel Prize for Medicine, along with other colleagues. Linda B. Buck and a colleague were awarded the prize in Medicine for their work on olfactory receptors. Françoise Barré-Sinoussiworking with her boss, discovered HIV and awarded the prize in Medicine. Nine women, over one hundred years, collaborating on teams or working solitary efforts to discover and add to human knowledge. Not very glamorous, but very valuable efforts. Usually the kind of stories you do not see projected to women in mainstream media today.

    Not everyone will become a Nobel Prize laureate, but every day women contribute to technology changes and advancements. It remains important to identify the diverse opportunity open to all people, as well as taking advantage of all the available brain power human beings possess. So, I hope whenever the opportunity presents itself you remember to encourage the girls and women in your life to grow their problem solving skills in a wide range of disciplines, including the sciences. Brains without boundaries should be the goal. You never know where the next good idea could originate, so why limit our choices?

    The picture I include today salutes some of the women with whom I work. Development engineers, quality engineers, product owners, technical writers, and project managers who solve technical problems and create solutions. I am sure you know some yourself.

  12. I’d like to add an acknowledgement for the contribution of Sharon Adler who, while working at IBM, made a big contribution to the development of SGML, the Standard Generalized Markup Language, ISO 8879, and later also to its companion standard DSSSL, the Document Semantics, Structure and Specification Language.

  13. Sarah Whelan asks how many remember Dorothy Hodgkin’s name?

    Dorothy Hodgkin is certainly remembered by the Royal Society, who have named a grant Fellowship programme after her – a flexible programme designed to support excellent scientists and engineers at an early stage of their career.

    Our Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows, Research Fellows and other grant-holders include many women working at the cutting-edge of technology – such as Dr Semali Perera, developing new technologies for carbon dioxide reduction, or Dr Karen Petrie, who is developing an area of computer science called Constraint Programming, where programs solve problems with many requirements. We also support many women who use the latest technology in their research, and offer a Rosalind Franklin Award to promote women in science.

    As the UK’s academy of science we seek to play an important role in helping to ensure that the UK is maximising the opportunity for all of the population to contribute to the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We hope that our work will ensure that many of our current female fellows, research fellows and grantholders are remembered long into the future, just as Ada Lovelace is now.

  14. When I was an undergraduate, Grace Hopper visited us. I remember her distributing telephone wires the length light travels in a nanosecond. My nanosecond representation was orange with purple stripes. She was a computer scientist, and she was female.

    Although I had no female computer science professors as an undergraduate or graduate, I saw her and others as examples that, yes, women could be respected as computer scientists. Giving Ada Lovelace’s name to the green language was another symbolic step forward. I saw women such as Susan Graham, Barbara Liskov, Susan Gerhart, and Nancy Leveson as computer scientists I could strive to follow. Now, I know that there are so many more.

    May we remember that we are all role models of what computer scientists can look like.

  15. To Phyllis Wicks

    An inspiration to a young woman starting out in a male dominated under resourced technology field. Thank you for pushing me to do more and use technology to take people from ‘We’ve always done it like that…’ to ‘Icouldn’t imagine going bck to what we had before…’

  16. I think it’s important not just to remember the brilliant people who have made enormous contributions in the field, but also to remember the ordinary women working in tech. I can think of several former co-workers and friends who, like me, will never win a Nobel prize, but who are nonetheless doing something they enjoy and making women in the tech department less of a rarity. None of us have been dissuaded from pursuing this field, and nobody with talent should feel unwelcome.

    I’d also like to mention a few women by name. Some of the people on this list might be people you’ve heard of (who maybe are brilliant), and some of them you probably haven’t heard of: Liz Mattijsen, Helen Cook, Arife Vural, Veronica Waters, Revi Sterling, Selena Deckelmann, Allison Randal, and Audrey Tang.

    But if I had to pick one woman who has influenced me the most in this area, I would name my mother. Although she isn’t a geek herself, she got the family a computer in 1985, when it was a lot less common to have one at home.

  17. Adryan Haik / Adri Saarinen A Lifetime of Computing by the Age of 24!

    Years ago, in her pre-teen years, Adryan set up an international horse lovers’ club for kids on the old BBS system. ‘Send me your lineage and I’ll send you a certificate with dam / sire / foal name’.

    I was visiting her in Monroe LA when she was ten; she had written a horse racing game in Basic, but it kept running with the same results. When I showed her a random number generator function, she added it and had a true racing game. I was working with programmers at the time who didn’t ‘get’ that level of programming functionality on microcomputers.

    Today she is one of the cofounders of Metaversatility, a company operating in Second Life, with clients like France Telecom and Sony [after initially starting in Second Life as an inhabitant, analyst, snail racer, clothing design and sales {including kilts for men}, marketeer, and event planner].

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