Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day & Digitization

This is Ada Lovelace Day and people around the world are using today to blog about women in technology. According to the Science Museum:
Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852) is often referred to as the world's first computer programmer. The daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron, and the admired intellect, Annabella Milbanke, Ada Lovelace represented the meeting of two alternative worlds: the romanticism and art of her father versus the rationality and science of her mother. In her attempt to draw together these polar opposites and create a 'poetical science' during the Victorian age, Ada collaborated with the renowned mathematician and inventor, Charles Babbage.
During my lifetime, it has become much more normal to see women work in technology positions, at least in industrialized countries, but we all know that it hasn't always been this way. In the U.S., the shift really occurred during World War II when women replaced men in many jobs so the men could go into the military. When the men returned from the service, they took back most of their jobs, but the door had already been opened and women did not let it slam shut!

In the last decade, I've heard of a need to get more young women interested in technology, so that the gains women have won, in holding a broad range of jobs, is not not lost. Unfortunately, the road to holding a good technology job requires continued progress and mastery of subjects such as math and science. There are other appealing jobs where the payoff is quicker.

As I think about digitization, digitization libraries, etc., I know that these are areas which are attracting both women and men. Influential women who come quickly to mind are:
But I know that there are many others -- known by many as well as known by only a few -- who are helping to move this field forward. And to all of them I say "Thank you!"

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