This Tuesday, celebrate a computer science visionary and join one of many events across the globe on Ada Lovelace Day – an international recognition of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Ada Lovelace was a pioneer of computer science. Brought up in a time that denied most women an education, she only received due recognition long after her death but has now become an icon of suppressed female genius.
She worked with inventor Charles Babbage on his general purpose computing machine, the Analytical Engine.
In 1843, she published a calculation that could be encoded on punch cards to generate Bernoulli Numbers – the first computer program.
Lovelace realised that with the right data and instructions, a computer could do anything – a century before the modern computer age.
Now, every second Tuesday in October becomes a celebration of her work, and that of other women in science, against the odds.
Last year, 82 cities around the world hosted over 150 independent events to celebrate women in STEM through events in all shapes and forms – everything from conferences, to Wikipedia “edit-a-thons” and pub quizzes.
This year’s highlight event, the “Ada Lovelace Day Live!” science cabaret, will be held at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London and feature female engineers, physicists, biologists alongside science communicators, including UK science writer and broadcaster Kat Arney.
An entertaining mix of short talks, comedy and musical pieces about the presenters’ work and the women that have inspired them, this event is intended to attract and inspire women of all ages from girls, university students to women in established careers.
For events near you or to organise your own, check out the Ada Lovelace Day website.
Viviane Richter is a freelance science writer based in Melbourne.
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