Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (née Byron; 10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) was a British mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognized as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often regarded as the first computer programmer.
Today is Ada Lovelace’s 200th birthday. Each year here at Adafruit, and others around the world, celebrate women in STEM with Ada Lovelace day, it’s gaining support and size worldwide, Suw Charman-Anderson & the ALD Team, fantastic work, thank you.
The big questions for the next 200 years… are “who are our next Adas? And who is going to help make them?”
The answer is – It’s up to all of us to be the change, diversity and inclusiveness we want to see in the world.
While we do not have all the answers, we do have some actionable ideas and questions to ask.
If you’re a person just looking to help, everyone knows a kid that just needs that spark to get going, that young girl out there that likes to tinker with computers? takes apart things? It’s the smallest things, early, that have the biggest impact, later. Encourage it and share examples of women with them that are engineers, scientists and more. If a young person imagines themselves doing something or being like someone, it’s more likely to be a career path or ambition later. Want some examples to share with an Ada? Start here.
If you’re a company, what are you doing, each day, to increase diversity in your organization? Are you providing opportunities for people at your company to grow, learn and mentor? Progress takes time, what are you doing each day? What are you doing today? Each week, each month and each year? If you’re not measuring important things like diversity in leadership, in teams, it won’t change, no one will change it for you. What are you doing _now_ to increase career opportunities for people from underrepresented groups? What are your company values? Make it known what you stand for. Can you donate time or resources to a coding, making, hacking effort?
If you’re a VC (venture capitalist), invest in woman owned & led companies – only about 3% of you do. Founders will do a lot for funding, almost anything, encourage them to have diversity in their DNA from the start. Ask the founders, at the start, what they’re going to do and how, to be more inclusive. Not -after- they’ve scored funding or “made it” 🙂
If you’re a customer, as in someone who is going to purchase something, support companies that have the values you want to see amplified and let them know. The internet can give a voice to things that are important, commerce can amplify that voice too – there are thousands of woman owned companies we can all show our support for. It’s possible to be a good cause and good business.
If you’re an online community, work in and on the comments of your site, videos and more and make sure it’s clear to anyone reading that _you_ are working to make your community a safe & positive place for anyone to share their code, projects and more. There are times that crummy people need to just leave if they choose to be jerks, toxic people are … toxic. Have a code of conduct clearly posted and enforced.
If you’re an event, have speakers and activities that are representative of your goals of being inclusive, have a code of conduct clearly posted and enforced. If the speaker can’t travel, it’s 2015, teleconference in, do a pre-recorded video, something to get more faces and voices up on stage.
If you are a journalist, always asking “what it’s like being a woman in tech” isn’t as helpful as also asking what women are not in the spotlight for their achievements can could or should be, follow up, tell their stories. We all know someone who for whatever reason isn’t getting the same coverage or any at all for their work.
If you’re a publication, specifically in technology, celebrate women doing good by putting them on the cover of your magazine. For print magazines, a cover is how a publication can signal what is important to the publication, the values the publication has and what the publication thinks is important to their audience to be inspired by. Tell the stories of successful women who make amazing things, make it a priority and cultural commitment as part of the editorial schedule. MAKE, a publication has an article about this “Why We’re Still Talking About Gender in STEM on Ada Lovelace’s 200th Birthday“.
Lastly, what if you _are_ an “Ada” now? Don’t give up, even when it’s tough and lonely. Surround yourself with good people, a support network, figure out the value you want to get from your efforts that do not rely on the approval or validation of internet strangers, build communities around your efforts, reach out to others, we’re out here and want to help each other.
These are just some of our ideas we have put in to action in the ways we can, questions we ask ourselves each day and suggestions we’ll continue to make. Together, we can all showcase, spotlight and emphasize that there _are_ Ada’s out there, they create, they work with us, they’re friends, family and more, we need to work extra hard to show our commitment. We’re all makers, we all have the potential to make amazing things together.
In closing, some selected quotes from adafruit.com/quotes – these appear on our invoices and on each page on adafruit.com in random order amongst many others.
“That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show” -Ada Lovelace
“In considering any new subject, there is frequently a tendency, first, to overrate what we find to be already interesting or remarkable; and, secondly, by a sort of natural reaction, to undervalue the true state of the case, when we do discover that our notions have surpassed those that were really tenable” -Ada Lovelace
“The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves” -Ada Lovelace
“I never am really satisfied that I understand anything; because, understand it well as I may, my comprehension can only be an infinitesimal fraction of all I want to understand” -Ada Lovelace
Happy Birthday Ada.