Ada Lovelace Day is Ten!

“I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.”

Ten years ago today I and hundreds of other people around the world celebrated the very first Ada Lovelace Day. We wrote blog posts about women that we knew or admired, the work they did and why they inspired us. I went to the Science Museum and recorded an interview with ‘Ada Lovelace’, an actress who explained Lovelace’s work and how the model Analytical Engine works.

Back in 2009, blogging was still popular, and it seemed like a really easy way for people to get involved. The idea was simple: Create a day of blogging when everyone would write about women in tech (or, in reality, STEM). We’d create a database of posts, and it would be a great resource for people wanting to find conference speakers, or expert voices, or just some good old fashioned inspiration.

I will admit that I originally thought it would be just me and a few friends, but 1,978 people signed up on Pledgebank, and about another 1,600 people signed up on Facebook. Somehow, I had captured the zeitgeist – Ada Lovelace Day was covered across the UK media and I found myself appearing live on the BBC News Channel to talk about it.

Of the 3,600 people who pledged to write a blog post, 1,237 added a URL to our map, and whilst that map is no longer available on the internet, you can still browse the list of blog posts on Archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Although some of them are lost to the mists of time, there are still some great blog posts to peruse.

Amongst the participants in that first festival of blogging were The New Scientist, ITPro, The GuardianThe Guardian Digital Content blogThe Guardian opinion page,  Electronics Weekly, Computer WeeklyComputer Weekly again, BCS, the BBC, the BBC Internet blogBBC News blogO’Reilly Media, including a post from Tim O’Reilly himselfNature, Vox, The Telegraph, GartnerDiscover magazine, Anita Borg, Mental FlossFast Company and Wellcome Library.

American electronics retailer AdaFruit adopted Ada Lovelace Day and have celebrated it every year since. And other notable supporters included Sydney Padua whose webcomic for the day evolved into a hugely successful graphic novel The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & BabbageLynn Featherstone, who was at the time an MP but is now Baroness Featherstone and serves in the House of Lords; award-winning author Naomi Alderman; science journalist and broadcaster Angela Saini.

In total, 843 women were named in our database, and you can see who was most popular in the word cloud on the right there. Unsurprisingly, Ada Lovelace herself and Rear Admiral Grace Hopper were very popular, but was what really lovely was the huge variety of women who were featured. Many posts featured “my mum”, “my daughter”, or “my colleagues”, and there undoubtedly many more women mentioned in the blog posts whose names were never entered into our database.

Right from the beginning, Ada Lovelace Day was international, and we had posts in 18 different languages: Catalan, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Marathi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Welsh. Because we lost the map, we sadly can’t get an accurate count of how many countries were represented, but it’s a fair bet to say that we would have seen pins in at least 16.

I am grateful to everyone who took part in the first Ada Lovelace Day, but particularly to Stephanie Troeth and Stephanie Booth who both helped me immensely with promotion and support.

Once the day was over, I did wonder what would become of it. It wasn’t immediately clear that it had legs beyond that one day, but a year later, I indeed found myself organising the second Ada Lovelace Day. Now, ten years on, Ada Lovelace Day is well established in the annual calendar, and is celebrated all around the world.

We work year-round to support women in STEM, and our growth shows no sign of slowing down. As well as organising Ada Lovelace Day, and our annual ‘STEM cabaret’ event, Ada Lovelace Day Live, we have also published two anthologies of biographies of women in STEM, a line of free women in STEM crochet patterns, and a podcast highlighting the work of women in STEM. We have run an Online Recruitment Fair for Women in STEM, and created a number of careers posters as part of a free education pack for teachers. Our Twitter campaigns have included a Christmas STEM advent calendar and the Twelve Days of STEMmas.

We have so many exciting projects planned for 2019, including a new peer mentorship and knowledge sharing network for women in STEM and their advocates. We’re hoping to launch that later this year, and you can help us out by answering a few questions!

Over the years, Ada Lovelace Day has been celebrated by millions of people around the world, and we want to reach millions more. So here’s to another ten years of Ada Lovelace Day!

Celebrating Ada Lovelace: A timeline

In celebration of Ada Lovelace Day’s 10th year, we would like to look back on all the groups and individuals that have honoured Ada Lovelace over the years. With that in mind, we’ve created a timeline of books, academic research, events, projects, films, documentaries and many other activities, to try and capture all the contributions that have helped make Ada and her achievements more recognised.

1950 – Computing Machinery and Intelligence, AM Turing, Mind, Volume LIX, Issue 236, 1 October 1950, Pages 433–460.
– This is Alan Turing’s seminal piece on artificial intelligence, in which he discusses Lady Lovelace’s Objection. 

1980 – The ADA programming language
– A computing language designed by Jean Ichbiah at CII Honeywell Bull, for the US Department of Defense.

1985 – Ada: A Life and a Legacy
– A biographical book on Ada Lovelace, 
by Dorothy Stein, reviewed by Garry J. Tee.

1990 – The Difference Engine
– An alternative history fiction book, by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling that includes Ada Lovelace as a character, giving a lecture in France.

1994 – The Ada Project
– An online project for information and resources about women in computing (found here).

1997 – Conceiving Ada
– A film about a computer scientist who becomes obsessed with communicating with Ada Lovelace, starring Tilda Swinton as Ada.

1997 – Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture
– A book by Sadie Plant exploring technology and women, featuring Ada Lovelace, reviewed by Nina Wakeford for New Scientist.

1998 – The Lovelace Medal
– An award established by the British Computing Society (BCS) for outstanding contributions to computer science.

1999 – The Bride of Science: Romance, Reason and Byron’s Daughter
– A biography by Benjamin Woolley, reviewed by John Zukowski.

2001 – Ada Lovelace: The Computing Wizard of Victorian England
 – This is a children’s book by Lucy Lethbridge.

2004 – Lovelace & Babbage and the creation of the 1843 ‘notes’, J. Fuegi and J. Francis, IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 16-26, Oct.-Dec. 2003.
– An academic research paper expanding on Babbage and Lovelace’s work.

2005 – Adafruit
– Online store for electronics products and maker kits, founded by Limor “Ladyada” Fried.

2008 – The Lovelace Colloquium
– An annual one day conference for women computer science students, held by The British Computing Society women group (BCSWomen).

2009 – Ada Lovelace Day
– The annual celebration of women and girls in STEM, held on the second Tuesday in October, and founded by Suw Charman-Anderson.

2010 – Ada’s Technical Books
– A bookstore in Seattle named after Ada, that sells technical and geeky books.

2011 – The Ada Initiative
– A project to increase the participation of women in the open source and open culture communities, run in the US until 2015.

2012 – Google Doodle
– On Ada’s 197th birthday, a Google Doodle was drawn in her honour.

2013 – The Ada Developers Academy
– Academy to increase diversity in tech by training people to be software developers.

2013 – Ada’s Algorithm: How Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s Daughter, Launched the Digital Age Through the Poetry of Numbers
 – James Essinger’s biography of Ada, reviewed by Kirkus.

2013 – A Female Genius: How Ada Lovelace Lord Byron’s Daughter Started The Computer Age
 – This is the US edition of Ada’s Algorithm, by James Essinger, with 5,000 additional words, reviewed by Colin Barker for ZDNet.

2013 – Ada’s List
– An email community for women in technology, launched on Ada Lovelace Day.

2013 – Ada Lovelace: An Interdisciplinary Conference Celebrating her Achievements and Legacy
– Academic conference organised by the Stevens Institute of Technology.

2013 – Great Lives
– BBC Radio 4 show on Ada Lovelace, with Konnie Huq and Suw Charman-Anderson.

2014 – The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
 – The history of computer science, including Ada Lovelace as one of the innovators, by Walter Isaacson (wiki entry here).

2015 – The Ada Lovelace Initiative
– Community initiative in Ireland, connecting women in tech with secondary schools in order to provide female role models and increase uptake amongst girls.

2015 – Ada Lovelace Awards
– An award founded by LookFar, to recognise and showcase the achievements of women in the tech industry.

2015 – The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer
– Graphic novel by Sydney Padua, of an alternative reality where Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage create the Difference Engine (wiki entry here).

2015 – Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
 – A children’s book by Laurie Wallmark, reviewed by Maria Russo for the New York Times.

2015 – Lady Byron and her Daughters
 – A book about the life of Lady Byron by Julia Markus, reviewed by Anne Boyd Rioux for the LA Review of Books.

2015 – Ada Lovelace: Victorian Computing Visionary, by Suw Charman-Anderson, Ada User Journal: V 36, No 1, March 2015, pp 35
– Bicentennial edition featuring several articles about Ada Lovelace.

2015 – Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing
– Documentary that aired on BBC Four, presented by Dr Hannah Fry.

2015 – The Letters of Ada Lovelace
 – BBC Radio 4 Dramatisation, presented by Georgina Ferry.

2015 – Ada. Ada. Ada.
– Stage show of the story of Ada Lovelace, written and directed by Zoe Philpott.

2015 – UK passports
– Update to the passports that included Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage on pages 46 and 47.

2015 – A Passion for Science: Stories of Discovery and Invention
 – Collection of stories about women in science, including Ada Lovelace, edited by Suw Charman-Anderson.

2016 – Ada, the National College for Digital Skills
– A college founded to help fill the digital skills gap and encourage inclusion in the tech industry.

2016 – PRACE Ada Lovelace Award
– An award founded by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) to honour an outstanding woman scientist working in high performance computing.

2016 – Programming Pioneer Ada Lovelace
 – A children’s book and part of the STEM Trailblazer Biography series, by Valerie Bodden.

2016 – Ada’s Ideas: The Story of Ada Lovelace, the World’s First Computer Programmer
– Children’s book by Fiona Robinson, reviewed by Emma Coonan.

2016 – Idea Makers: Personal Perspectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People
 – Book by Stephen Wolfram, includes a chapter on Ada Lovelace.

2016 – Ada’s Legacy: Cultures of Computing from the Victorian to the Digital Age
 – Book by Robin Hammerman and Andrew L. Russell, that developed after the Ada academic conference.

2016 – The multifaceted impact of Ada Lovelace in the digital age, Aiello, L. C, Artificial Intelligence, V 235, pp. 58-62
– An academic review of Ada’s Legacy.

2017 – Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace
– An historical fiction novel by Jennifer Chiaverini, reviewed by Amanda Skenandore.

2017 – The Early Mathematical Education of Ada Lovelace, Hollings, C., Martin, U, and Rice, A. BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, pp. 221-234.
– Academic research investigating the early education of Ada.

2017 – The Lovelace–De Morgan mathematical correspondence: A critical re-appraisal, Hollings, C., Martin, U, and Rice, A. Historia Mathematica, vol 34, no 3, pp. 202-231.
– Academic research paper presenting a detailed contextual analysis of some of Ada’s correspondence.

2017 – Ada and the Engine
– A stage play of Ada’s life by Lauren Gunderson.

2017 – Ada Lovelace Gin
– Part of the Great Women Spirits collection created by The Family Coppola, and released on Ada Lovelace Day.

2017 – Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician
– A boardgame by 
Robin David, where Ada Lovelace has to solve the crime of a missing artifact.

Credit: Satellogic

2018 – ÑuSat 4 “Ada”
– Satellogic’s microsatellite ÑuSat 4, named in honour of Ada Lovelace, was launched aboard a Long March 2D rocket on 2 February.

2018 – The Ada Lovelace Institute
– Independent organisation formed to offer research and commentary on artificial intelligence, data and related technologies.

2018 – Ada Lovelace Excellence Scholarship
– A scholarship fund offered by University of Southampton, for female undergraduates studying Electronics & Computer Science.

2018 – Ada Lovelace
– Children’s book by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, part of the Little People, BIG DREAMS series, and reviewed by Allison at The Three Rs Book Blog.

2018 – In Byron’s Wake
– A biography by Miranda Seymour, reviewed by Lucy Lethbridge for the Literary Review.

2018 – Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist
– A biography by Christopher Hollings, Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice, reviewed by Suw Charman-Anderson.

2018 – Victoria
– Ada featured as a character in the ITV drama,  portrayed by Emerald Fennell.

2018 – Ada Lovelace Fellowship
– Funding for doctoral students from underrepresented groups, offered by Microsoft.

2018 – Top Quarkz
– Ada was turned into a superhero for the card game, Top Quarkz.

2019 – Doctor Who: The Enchantress of Numbers
– Ada featured as a character in this episode of the audio book Doctor Who: The Fourth Adventures, voiced by Finty Williams.

We would love to keep building on this document, so please do leave a comment if you have any other suggestions for us to add, or tweet to us @FindingAda.

Video: How Ada Lovelace Day Started

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Madrid, to speak to the Ciencia en Redes 2016 conference for science communicators about how Ada Lovelace Day started, and how we use social media to help have an impact far larger than our modest size should suggest.

It was a great opportunity for me to take a look at how much Ada Lovelace Day has grown since I started it, well, actually in late 2008 if we go by the first @findingada tweet! And it prompted me to look forward, and see what kind of work we still need to do, particularly in terms of reaching out to new audiences.

You can watch the whole day on YouTube, or just my talk (also below).

You might also want to take a look at the talk before mine, by Jenni Fuchs of @Museum140, who gave a fantastic talk about some of the Twitter hashtag campaigns she’s run around different museum-related themes. We’ll certainly be following her lead by developing such events ourselves!

Please support women in STEM with our ALD fundraiser

I am very excited to say that we have just launched our first ever Ada Lovelace Day fundraiser on Indiegogo. We hope to raise $24,000 (£15,000) so that we can create a formal charitable organisation to develop our activities, and for that we need your support.

Since its inception, Ada Lovelace Day has been run entirely by volunteers and by partnering with organisations like the Women’s Engineering Society, the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment, the London Games FestivalBCS Women and businesses like Evectors and Technophobia. We have managed a huge amount through the kindness and generosity of our volunteers and partners, but there is so much more we could do.

Our future direction

There is so much that we would like to do to expand our reach, provide support for women who need it, and raise awareness of women’s contributions to the STEM disciplines. Here are a few of goals:

  • Create and collate teaching plans for all educational levels
  • Create an expert speakers directory for women in STEM
  • Provide media training for women interested in improving their communications skills
  • Hold events to introduce women in STEM to journalists
  • Outreach to relevant professional and student bodies
  • Curate stories of iconic women in STEM
  • Create a directory of organisations for women in STEM
We want to provide help to women in STEM not just on one day of the year, but all year round. If you want to see us realised these goals, please donate.

Where would the money go?

£5,000/$8,000: Our first priority is Ada Lovelace Day 2012 and ensuring that the events are given the administrative support that they need to be successful. We’ll also spend time adding more useful content to our website.

£10,000/$16,000: Reaching this goal would give us enough money to get professional advice and help in creating a formal charitable organisation.

£15,000/$24,000 or more: This would allow us to commission website design and development work. It would also give us the resources to do further fundraising to secure the long-term future of the organisation.

Ada Lovelace Day will always be a special event, but with your support we can extend our activities and help many more women flourish in science, technology, engineering and maths.

What if we don’t reach our goal?

This project is set to ‘keep what you raise’, which means that your kind donation will go towards supporting Ada Lovelace Day 2012, no matter what happens. Everything that you give, minus Indiegogo and payment processing fees, will help us to improve our support for women in STEM. If we don’t reach our goal, we’ll still get the money, but will pay more in fees.

Spreading the word

Whether you are able to support us or not, one really important thing you can do is spread the word:

Tell everyone in your social networks
Tweet it, blog it, Facebook it, Pin it! Share it on Tumblr, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg. Let everyone know about Ada Lovelace Day and our fundraiser. And remember, no matter the size of your own personal network, the more we Tweet and reTweet, the further the message will spread.

Email your friends and/or relevant mailing lists
If you have friends who might be interested in supporting Ada Lovelace Day, why not send them a quick email about our fundraising project? Equally, if you’re on any science, technology, engineering, maths, or women-in-STEM mailing lists, and you feel that it would be appropriate, please do send them an email pointing them to this fundraiser.

Post an item on LinkedIn or Facebook Groups
If you’re in any tech, science or women-in-STEM LinkedIn or Facebook Groups, why not post a small item about Ada Lovelace Day and our fundraiser, and point people here so they can find out more?

Write a blog post, record a podcast
If you have a blog, podcast, videoblog or website, please tell your audience why you think supporting Ada Lovelace Day is a good idea and provide a link to this page.

Every single text, blog post, email and update helps us reach not just potential supporters, but also helps us to spread the word about Ada Lovelace Day and our events, so thank you!

Visit our Indieogogo page.

Ada currently 5th in Information Pioneers poll

The BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (was the British Computer Society) recently launched the Information Pioneers campaign to raise awareness of five “often forgotten” pioneers: Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Sir Clive Sinclair, Hedy Lamarr and Sir Tim Berners-Lee. Each has a short film about them, so here’s Ortis Deley from The Gadget Show talking about Ada.

Please do pop along to the website and vote for your favourite. Ada is currently 5th… i.e. last, so she does need some TLC! You can also follow @infopioneers on Twitter.