Ada Lovelace, meet LoloBloggs
March 24th was Ada Lovelace Day (I’m late I know!). A day which many people have no clue about, but that’s fine seeing as it’s a new fangled thing that seems to exist primarily on the internet via the medium of blogging.
Anyhoo, Ada Lovelace Day is a day for celebrating the achievements of Women in Technology and Science. Ada Lovelace herself, the daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron is historically known for having written the first computer programme for a machine designed by Charles Babbage that never got built (a small oversight). Her work informed the developments in mathematics that ultimately led to the age of computing.
So why do we need a whole day to celebrate women in technology? Simply put, there are not enough of us in technology. I live and earn my living in a technology driven environment and I see us (women) in the minority. At work, we have a very rare 50/50 split, but that’s because I work in the world of empathy and research, i.e. we’re a little less techie than others. Go into the ‘codezone’ and the smell of boy is likely to chase you out.
The very silly, “it’s a boy’s world” attitude can’t continue to wash. Having women in technology improves the quality of what is produced. FACT! Yes, I said fact. I have no statistics to share (but who needs numbers?!), but one thing that has had a lot of study is the idea of the empathiser vs the systemiser (sometimes referred to as the female/male brain).
In technology, most development teams will be systemisers (both male and female); they think in shapes, structures and systems. Empathisers are just that, they empathise with other people, they can handle emotions, needs and the soft stuff. Women have higher empathiser scores than men, even when they are more natural sytemisers. No matter how low a woman’s empathy score is, it can often (although not always) be higher than the average man.
So the next time you think that Apple obviously don’t have enough women working for them to come out with a product called the iPad you would be right. They don’t have a single woman in their leadership. And it’s not just about the glamorous side of things, woman are just as good as men at dealing with the mechanics, but we obviously don’t think this of ourselves otherwise we would be running tingz!
Well I also want to take it one step further. Not only do I want to see more women in technology, I want to see more African Women, more Nigerian Women, more women just like me. When it comes to re-dressing the balances, we might as well go all out with creating role models that work for every group. If I see me reaching the heights of technology by doing something cool, innovative and fun that puts me on the world stage, then my kids will see themselves, and my grandkids won’t even think of it as anything special, it will just be.
So Happy Ada Lovelace Day. Over the next year, think about encouraging a little girl in your family by buying her a laptop, a science kit, a lego or mechano box even a chess set (best gift I received at the age of 10), if it’s a boy’s toy, then you can bet a girl would enjoy it too.
I’ll leave you with a bit of inspiration in the female tech stakes, firstly, Mercedez Bunz’s Ada Lovelace Day blog post for the Guardian shines the light on a few women making waves in technology.
I’ve also scoured my blogroll to find a few links, some are from last year, but still inspiring. Enjoy.
Ore’s Notes: Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Abi Jagun
The Activist: The Amazon Shero: Oreoluwa Somolu
Kate Rutter Adaptive Path Blog: In honour of Ada, I honour Hildegard
Ethan Zuckerman’s My Heart’s in Accra: Ada Lovelace Day
Jennifer Chayes at The Huffington Post: Ada Lovelace Day
But You’re A Girl: Valeria Aurora is my hero for Ada Byron Lovelace Day
Science Blogs: Ada Lovelace and the Impact of Positive Female Role Models