Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Ada Lovelace Day

It's Ada Lovelace Day, a chance to celebrate women in science.

Why do women in science need celebrating? Because, sadly, they get under-represented. Whilst it seems that males choose to pursue science more than females, such that a 50:50 split may be unlikely (see the chapter "Gender" in Pinker's The Blank Slate), there are still hurdles in the way - the current Boots Christmas Catalogue, for example, has science toys listed only in the section for boys. This is unacceptable, and such barriers must be dropped.

For Ada Lovelace Day day, the organisers are asking people to highlight a female scientist. There are many to choose from, but today I shall pick Mary Anning. Like many children, I thought dinosaurs and fossils were cool, and I still do. She hunted fossils and discovered the first examples of the ichthyosaur, pterosaur and plesiosaur. I loved reading about those discoveries, and also have a vague recollection of the seventh Doctor meeting her in an old issue of Doctor Magazine which was, I think you'll understand, Very Exciting.

Despite her accomplishments, she still didn't get the full recognition she deserved in her day.

In addition to the above, at school I let all the students I taught know that it was Ada Lovelace Day as well as my colleagues.

As ever, there's an XKCD that is just a wonderful fit for the day, which I shall leave you with:

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