Ada Lovelace Day

Dr Sue Black OBE: Why we ALL need to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day

By Dr Sue Black OBE 11 October 2016
Summary

An inspiring past can mean a promising future.

We all need help to make the right choices: Today, on Ada Lovelace Day, think about yours.

Back in the 1830s Lovelace’s mother Annabella Byron was helping to shape her daughter’s future – she separated from the dissolute poet, Lord Byron, and encouraged her child to excel at mathematics.

Child prodigy Ada went on to be a computing pioneer, coming up with the framework that so much of our digital world now relies on.

Coding simply didn’t exist before her.

Dr Sue Black OBE. Pic: YouTube/ITU INTERVIEWS
Dr Sue Black OBE. Pic: YouTube/ITU INTERVIEWS

Celebrate Ada Lovelace Day

Today on Ada Lovelace Day, it’s still so inspiring to work in the same industry as Lovelace.

I did my PhD in software engineering, and for most of my working life I’ve been surrounded by men.

But it’s assuring to know the whole process was started by a woman.

Too often in the tech world we only see men take centre stage – the Mark Zuckerbergs, the Steve Jobs’. This makes technology seem like an impenetrable male dominated industry, where in fact there are many women doing amazing things.

We keep celebrating Ada Lovelace each year, because it is so important to have role models: If there are no role models that look like you, you will not feel confident.

We need to feel that we can be successful and that we have every chance of making a difference.

Diversity matters

Hopefully at some point we can move past the whole gender agenda, but we’re not there yet.

In terms of innovation, diversity is critical.

If we want to have technology that reflects the needs and wants of women, we need women and girls to be in the field, taking part.

If everyone on a team thinks the same way, they will never realise the opportunity outside of it.

No one can know what it’s like to a woman better than a woman.

Diversity helps you to build better products – that’s not just my opinion – it’s a fact.

United States CTO Megan Smith. Pic: CC.

Looking forward

Today, women like Hassle’s Jules Coleman, United States CTO Megan Smith, US CTO, and smart cities expert Larissa Suzuki are all driving progress in their respective fields.

Read more: 5 World-class female coders to celebrate on Ada Lovelace Day

We are moving towards a more-balanced society – but we haven’t reached equality yet.

My advice to women, is simply to keep going – we will get there.

We also all have to help each other as we move forward.

It’s easy to go with the flow, but the more that we all – men and women – help those around us, the better we’ll be able to hear the new voices at the table.

This won’t only bring a better world for women, but it will also undoubtedly bring us closer to the next big tech breakthrough.

Will you help the next Adas step up to the mark?

Read more: Teenage girls are capable of anything

Read more: Over 40 & coding: It’s never too late to start

Read more: Can we please stop tokenising women on panels?