Ada Lovelace: Enchantress of Numbers

Today is Ada Lovelace day! Ada Lovelace was a 19th century British writer and mathematician who is considered the first ever programmer and the founder of modern computing. Her friend and colleague Charles Babbage called her “The Enchantress of Numbers”. This year is the first year of what is hoped to be an annual celebration of women in technology. The site Finding Ada explains the nature and purpose of this International day of recognition:

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology.

Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Entrepreneurs, innovators, sysadmins, programmers, designers, games developers, hardware experts, tech journalists, tech consultants. The list of tech-related careers is endless.

Recent research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. 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.

So, I signed up to take part in this and to blog about a woman in a technology career that I admire. Choosing one woman is difficult, but the person I admire the most and who had a tremendous amount of influence on my thinking about technology and identity is Sherry Turkle.  

Sherry Turkle’s books The Second Self and Life on the Screen were profound for me because as I read her words I remember feeling a great sense of relief and recognition – here was an academic talking about the emotional effects of technology, as opposed to the rational and scientific. Her work gave me license to start my own research, inspiring me to study and write about the phenomena which I had previously been embarrassed to admit even knowing about. So, there it is, Sherry Turkle is my modern day heroine, and the person I feel has directly influenced my life, my career choices and my own professional identity.

Update: See all the blog posts written for Ada Lovelace Day here

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