Ada Lovelace Day – A Review (by )

Yesturday me and Alaric took part in the first ever Ada Lovelace Day which was a day of international blogging about women in tech who have inspired you or that you admire.

He produced two posts and I produced two:

For this blog Alaric blogged about his Aunt Barbara who pioneered the use of computers in translation.

For Web-Empire he blogged about Grace Hopper the origonator of the COBOL language.

For Salaric Craft I blogged about Mary Dixon Kies the first woman to be awarded a patent in her own right - she had invented a weaving techniques for straw hats.

And last but in my mind not least I blogged about Monica Grady on my Astronomy blog.

There were also lots of fun things happening yesturday like Ada appearing at the Science Museum 🙂

There has even been a webcomic produced for the event 🙂

However, there are some sinister things that I came across whilst trying to encourage my friends to take part in this event - namely that my male friends were far more enthusiastic and my female compatriots are all disillusioned with the world of science and technology.

This is a subject on which I have posted before and I have several drafts I am working on - about glass ceilings that I really hadn't thought were there until I hit them.

But there is another issue - one friend after doing her PhD with a bad supervisor felt that women in science were bitches and this I have to say is something I personally have come across. My biggest hinderance wasn't the letcherous old guy who thought women should be at home but rather other women who had it in their heads that in order for them to help you, you had to be twice as good as the men/boys around you.

Help offered freely to them was denied and an active discuoragement took place - I don't know if this was being done in a 'kind' way with the idea that women have to be tough to survive the field or what.

But like the early feminists found - the biggest barrier to women succeeding does appear to be other women.

This is a sad sad state of affairs and one I hoped was unique to my own experiences. It was so refreshing for me when I went to the Natural History Museums Mineralogy department to find that they just went out of their way to enable everyone reguardless of gender, dissability or anything else that could act as a barrier.

I have seen and am seeing several friends leaving the world of sciecne that they worked so hard to get into becuase they feel so deflated with all of this. In some ways this is probably a bigger issue than getting girls interested in the first place - how do we retain them within the science and tech sectors?

The other thing I didn't appreciate until I tried to do stuff in the 'coporate' world was just how much stupid prejudice still exists. I am in a heavily male subject but as the head of UCL's earth science's himself said to me - this is changing - they did a drive (around the time I was choosing what to do at university) to get women into earth scientists. And slowely the girls from that drive are filtering in to post docs and he hopes with eventually end up in the facalty staff.

My year was the first 50:50 split year ever and this trend is following the year as it progresses. So I am hopeful that things can change with time as long as we can stem this hemorrage of females leaving.

I could write reams and reams on this and I probably will but right now I need to go and read up on lunar mineralogy for tomorrow!

I just thought this was an issue I should raise.


  • By Heather, Wed 25th Mar 2009 @ 11:16 am

    You hit the nail on the head. Sexism is perpetrated just as much by women as it is by men. I work as a translator (women dominated) and I have seen many women make it difficult for other women to move up. It's really discouraging.

  • By Sarah, Fri 27th Mar 2009 @ 10:57 am

    It's a subject that tends to be swept under the carpet when women's rights and career progression is being talked about which is a shame as it needs to be aknowledged to be delt with.

    Apologies I'm having a bad spelling day today


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