24 March 2010 1 Comment

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day

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Today’s the day to celebrate women in technology by writing a few words about a woman you find inspiring. There’s more about Ada and how you can join in here.

I’ve read some of the blogs which have already come from all over the world and they’re brilliant. From clever mates at school, to talented podcasters, to unsung heroines. It’s a powerful insight into the nature of inspiration but most importantly a great record of female achievement.

On Friday, at an event for for 300 teenagers I asked the room to imagine a scientist. After a few seconds I asked  if anyone had imagined a woman. Just six hands were lifted.

Tonight, at the  Potluck Unconference I’ve a few minutes to talk about one woman who’s inspired me. I’m finding it very difficult to make a choice, which is why  some old colleagues from Tomorrow’s World may have  their ears burning. Friends like Judith Hann, who you’ll know and brilliant producers like  like Cynthia Page, Fiona Holmes, Dana Purvis, Caroline van Den Brul, Bettina Lerner, Sue Spindler, Sally Dixon, Teresa Hunt, Jane Aldous, Hilary McGough and Annis Barr, who made sure Judith and myself were never seen as technology handmaidens.

But while I decide, let me  celebrate my mum,  forced to leave school at 14 by her father (an engineer), who didn’t believe education for girls was important. For her, the war provided a great opportunity; she was swift to volunteer and went out to Egypt and Palestine with the WAAF, working in Signals with radar and as a wireless operator, jobs she loved.

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Along with her friends,  she played a huge part in overthrowing received ideas about what women could and couldn’t do.

And later, she made sure that I had the education she missed. Thank you Mum.