Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Finding Ada - creating new female role models

I should be studying for exams but I wanted to quickly post about Ada Lovelace Day. The organiser asks for pledges to "publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire". You can find out more about why at the link above, but the point about why role models are important is worth repeating:
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.”

Who would you blog about? I've signed the pledge so I'd better start thinking.

[Edited to add: if you're interested in researching and making information about inspiring female role models accessible, you might be interested in 'modern bluestocking'. Contributions and suggestions are very welcome, especially from a technical perspective. And I will be shamelessly checking out suggestions for Ada Lovelace Day to add to the nascent modernbluestocking topic on Freebase.]

7 comments:

  1. Linda Sparke is the first name that springs to mind. Does this have to be computer science?

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  2. It's not computer science or web specific, though I guess someone like George Oates is a pretty obvious suggestion. I'd like to write about Grace Hopper but I bet loads of people will. I might trawl the collections database at work for ideas. We've got a trial Analytical Engine, so it could be cool to do something with that for Ada Lovelace day.

    The original blog post says "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."

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  3. For some reason I thought they had to be alive and working in technology/science now. Historically, there's Annie Cannon, Henrietta Leavitt or Caroline Herschel in astronomy.

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  4. It'd rule out Ada Lovelace if they had to be alive!

    Those are great suggestions, I've also added them to http://modernbluestocking.ning.com/

    The 43 Things list 'list 50 women little girls should admire instead of symbols of stupidity and weakness' (http://bit.ly/6jca) might also yield some names.

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  5. If you are thinking about someone around now my vote would be for Nina Simon (Museums 2.0) some of the most original thinking around museums that is happening at the moment.

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  6. From your neck of the woods, there's Beatrice Tinsley too, who figured out that galaxies evolve and (I think) fell out with Alan Sandage over that idea. Since Sandage had the big scientific reputation, Tinsley's work was ignored even though, in the end, Sandage was wrong.

    One of my friends, Joann Eisberg, was researching a biography of Tinsley years and years ago but I don't if it ever reached publication.

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  7. Dave, are you going to blog on the day?

    Jim, would your friend be able to summarise their research on Beatrice Tinsley for blogging on the day?

    www.ukrc4setwomen.org is another possible source.

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