Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day is the very definition of a viral happening. No one sent out a mailer or spent any money at all, but women connected around the world by facebook pages, blogs, websites all chose to write today about technical women.

In my 18 months with the Anita Borg Institute I've met many incredible women. Their incredible enthusiasm for their studies, their jobs and technology itself is inspiring. It's very hard to pick just one person to blog about. I would like to recognize Jean Bartik, one of the original ENIAC programmers. I've learned a lot about the ENIAC programmers in the last 18 months, how they were the ones who actually physically programmed the first computer, how when they had the celebatorydinner when the computer was launched all the women were left behind while the men went out to eat, how they have struggled for recognition. Jean impressed me the most when I went to hear her speak at the Computer History Museum. At the private reception I was sitting having a snack, not knowing anyone in the room, and she came and sat down with me and started to chat. She was a delight. And on stage she was a riot - sharing how she went from being raised on a farm to moving to Philadelphia on her own to take on the job as an ENIAC Programmer - back in a time when women just didn't do that.

But most of all Jean inspired me with her statement about herself and one of the other Programmers - we are Work Horses and Finishers - we get the job done. That is how I have always viewed myself - someone who gets the job done. Cheers to Jean. And Cheers to Ada Lovelace Day.

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