Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a worldwide event to promote female role models in the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). Ada Lovelace Day encourages people to talk about women scientists and engineers that have inspired them, with the hope that more women will be encouraged to work in these areas. You can read more about it in this Guardian article.

Ada Lovelace was the world’s first computer programmer in 1842, well before computers were even invented. Her friend, Charles Babbage came up with the idea for an Analytical Engine and he asked Ada to translate his lecture notes for him from French to English. However, she did much more than that.

Suw Charman-Anderson, the founder of Ada Lovelace Day, said: ‘Ada wrote what is essentially a computer program. She wrote a description of how the machine could be programmed using punched cards to calculate Bernoulli numbers, a complex series of numbers. She broke the process for calculating the numbers down into small formulae and then she described how you would code those formulae into punched cards, so it could be worked out by the machine. She understood that the Analytical Engine could actually be used, given the right algorithms, to create music or to create art.’

Ada’s mother was responsible for making sure she had an education in maths and the sciences, after her father, the poet Lord Byron, left them when Ada was only a month old. Sadly, Ada died of cancer of the uterus, aged just 36, and her work wasn’t recognised until much later after her death. Now she is recognised as being more than 100 years ahead of her time.

You can read more about her here.

Since I became interested in studying medicine, I have learnt about the historical role of women in medicine, such as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female British doctor, Florence Nightingale and Marie Curie. During the past year, I’ve shadowed two really good female doctors, Kirsty Armstrong and Sue Heyes, who have both shown me what women can achieve in medicine now, here and in Malawi, and I can’t wait to become a doctor and hopefully inspire others like they inspired me.

Read about more inspiring women in science, technology, engineering and maths here.