Global events pay tribute to first computer programmer on Ada Lovelace Day

15 Oct 2013

Ada Lovelace, known as the world's first computer programmer

It’s Ada Lovelace Day today, and worldwide events are not only celebrating the world’s first computer programmer, but also aiming to highlight the achievement of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and to provide role models to young and old alike.

Suw Charman-Anderson is the founder of Ada Lovelace Day, which has been inspired by a study carried out by psychologist Penelope Lockwood. Her study results revealed that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male role models.

“Outstanding women can function as inspirational examples of success, illustrating the kinds of achievements that are possible for women around them,” Lockwood told Finding Ada.

“They demonstrate that it is possible to overcome traditional gender barriers, indicating to other women that high levels of success are indeed attainable.”

Like that achieved by Lovelace. The daughter of Romantic poet Lord Byron, Lovelace was raised by her mother, Annabella Milbanke, who pressed upon her the study of mathematics from a young age. It turned out young Ada had a great aptitude for the subject and by her 20s, Charles Babbage, the inventor of the some of the first modern computers, described her as ‘The Enchantress of Numbers’.

In 1842, Lovelace translated an article about Babbage’s Analytical Machine from the original Italian. She appended a series of notes that grew to three times the length of the article itself, and those notes are now recognised as the world’s first computer programme.

Now, on Ada Lovelace Day, Python Ireland will be launching PyLadies Dublin and other Ada Lovelace Day events around the globe include an installation on women in technology in Vicenza, Italy; an edit-a-thon in Brussels to update, improve or create Wikipedia entries on women in computing, hacking, electronic literature, digital humanities and more; and a gathering to encourage women in Africa to take up STEM as an educational and career choice in Kampala, Uganda.

Events update: System Biology Ireland resesarchers are also celebrating women in science.

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology,engineering and maths

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic