Bursaries available for LISA conference

If you’re a female computer scientist interested in going to UKUUG’s Large Installation Systems Administration conference in London on 24-26 March, but you haven’t got the money to go, Google are offering two bursaries of up to £500.

To be eligible for a conference grant candidates must:

* Be a developer or a student in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or technical field related to Large Installation Systems Administration.
* Be maintaining a strong academic background with demonstrated leadership ability.
* Attend both days of the UKUUG conference.

Deadline for applications is Friday 13th February.

So who wants to do a nice shiny mash-up?

I’ve been thinking about how we might keep track of all the Ada Lovelace Day blog posts, podcasts etc., and have had a number of emails from people thinking the same thing. Initially I was thinking perhaps a Delicious tag and an RSS feed, but surely there’s a more visually exciting way to do it than that!!

So, what about a map mash-up? Can we set something up so that people can locate themselves on a map, link to their post and state who they’re talking about? I think the minimum info that I’d like to collect would be:

  • geolocation
  • language
  • URL for blog post, video, audio, etc.
  • name of blog or blogger
  • name of woman featured

What would be the best way to do this? And is there someone out there willing to build something for us? It’d be good to have a permanent archive of the day and a visual representation of all the posts. Please use the comments to discuss your ideas.

Let’s make a really big splash!

The last couple of weeks, since launching Ada Lovelace Day, has been bonkers. I originally worried that we wouldn’t find enough people to sign the pledge, but it took just seven days to get 1000 signatories and we now stand at 1183. That’s fabulous, but we’ve got 62 days left before the pledge completes. Surely we can find another few thousand people willing to sign up?

I want to make a really big splash on 24th March, so even though the pledge target has been met, let’s keep on spreading the word and recruiting new bloggers, podcasters, video bloggers, Seesmicer, Twitterers and, hey, even journalists!

Here are a few things you might like to do:

  • Blog about Ada Lovelace Day: Dozens, possibly hundreds, of people have already written about Ada Lovelace Day, for which I’m very grateful. But if you haven’t yet mentioned it, please do.
  • Put the pledge badge on your blog.
  • Tell your friends. If you know someone who might be interested, let them know!
  • Tell your local media outlets. Can’t hurt to try and get a bit of press, can it?
  • Invite your Facebook network. There’s an event page on Facebook, but we also need people to sign the pledge as well.
  • Go crazy mad with the social bookmarking: Digg it, Reddit, Delicious it, just get it out there.
  • Twitter a link: Let’s have a big push on Twitter to get the word out to our communities!

How else can we spread the word? Let me know in the comments, and let’s get as many people as possible to join us all on Ada Lovelace Day.

Ada Lovelace Day needs you

We are just 95 signatories off reaching our target of 1000 people, all promising to blog about a woman they admire on 24 March 2009. I had originally been a bit worried that we wouldn’t see 13 people per day sign up, but the reaction to the pledge has been just awe inspiring. Now my aim is to get 1000 people within the first seven days – which means that we have to reach our target by 10pm tonight, GMT.

If you haven’t signed the pledge, please do. If you haven’t blogged about it or Twittered about it yet, please do. We have less than twelve hours to hit the target!

Ada Lovelace Day

I’ve mainly stayed away from the discussion of gender issues in technology. I didn’t think that I had any real expertise to share. But over the last six months, after many conversations, it has become clear that many of my female friends in tech really do feel disempowered. They feel invisible, lacking in confidence, and unsure how to compete for attention with the men around them.

Then I see the stupid puerile misogynistic manner with which some of the more powerful voices in the tech community – some of them repeat offenders – treat women, and it makes me very cross indeed. The objectification of women is bad enough when it’s done by the media, but when it’s done by a conference organiser or tech commentator or famous tech publication, what message does it send? Nothing but “You will never be taken seriously, but we might take notice of you if you’re hot.”

But what to do? Well, let’s pull back from the anger a little, and start to look instead at why it might be that women feel less secure in their abilities than most men, and what might help change that. Undoubtedly it’s a complex issue, but recent research may shed some light: Psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones.

Well, that’s a relatively simple problem to begin to address. If women need female role models, let’s come together to highlight the women in technology that we look up to. Let’s create new role models and make sure that whenever the question “Who are the leading women in tech?” is asked, that we all have a list of candidates on the tips of our tongues.

Thus was born Ada Lovelace Day, and this pledge:

“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.”

— Suw Charman-Anderson (contact)

Deadline to sign up by: 24th March 2009

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

It doesn’t matter how new or old your blog is, what gender you are, what language you blog in, or what you normally blog about – everyone is invited to take part. All you need to do is sign up to this pledge and then publish your blog post any time on Tuesday 24th March 2009. If you’re going to be away that day, feel free to write your post in advance and set your blogging system to publish it that day.

You’ll notice that I’ve asked for 1,000 people to sign the pledge, which is an ambitious number. Indeed, PledgeBank makes a pretty strong point during the pledge creation process of asking people to limit their requests to 20 people, but I am sure that over the next 77 days we’ll be able to find another 989 people to join us!

What can you do?
Obviously, and most importantly, please sign the pledge. If you already have a blog, then it will be easy for you to take part. If you don’t have a blog, this might be a great reason to start one! It’ll take you about five minutes to get yourself set up on WordPress and then you’ll be up and running!

Please also consider putting a pledge badge on your blog now or writing a short post about the project to help spread the word. You can also use the “Share This” link on the pledge itself to send the pledge to your favourite social bookmarking or news site, or to email it to a friend. The more people who send this link to Delicious or Digg and the like, the more likely we are to hit our target!

Also, if you’re on Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku, Identi.ca or any other microconversation tool, please ping a message to all your friends about Ada Lovelace Day, and don’t forget the link! If you’re on LinkedIn, you could also add it as your temporary status for a while.

It is going to be a challenge to hit 1,000 people – we’ll need an average of 13 people signing each day – but if we all tell our friends about it, I think we can do it!

Keep up with Ada Lovelace Day news
I’ve got a Twitter account, mailing list, blog and Facebook event set up, so feel free to follow, subscribe and add to your RSS reader, as you wish!

Tags, video/audio and the meaning of technology
These are the tags that we’re going to be using.

  • AdaLovelaceDay09 for Delicious, Technorati etc. It’s long, but clear.
  • #ALD09 for Twitter hashtags.

It doesn’t matter what medium you choose to do your post in – it could be a video post, a podcast or any other format you choose.

Equally, it’s up to you how you interpret the phrase “in technology”. We’re not just talking about hardcore ninja programmers, but any woman who creates, invents, or uses any technology in an innovative way. One of my friends is going to write about women in animation, for example. But there are many women excelling in gaming, or developing hardware, or tech project management, or using tech to do science… there are all sorts of careers that could come under the banner of “technology” and we’re happy to hear about women in any of them.

Finally, your chosen women can be alive, or she can be dead. After all, I’m going to be writing about Ada. (Not that I want to spoil the surprise, but I think we’d all agree that it would be apropos!)

What will happen next?
If Ada Lovelace Day is a success I’d like to make it an annual event. And, once the economy is in a better position, I’d like to put together a one day conference called Finding Ada. We would cover presentation skills and would introduce women to tech conference organisers, with the aim of getting more women up on stage at tech conferences. At the moment, I’m short of money to get Finding Ada moving, so if you’d like to be a sponsor please get in touch and I’ll tell you more about it.

Finally, who was Ada?
Ada Lovelace was one of the world’s first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built.