Ada Lovelace wasn’t just the first female computer programmer, she was the world’s first ever computer programmer full stop. Ada Lovelace day celebrates women in STEM, which is also what Cambridge AWiSE is all about! There is lots of activity on twitter on the fact it is Ada Lovelace day, I even noticed it ‘trending’. Here are some of the links that caught my attention….
Plenty of posts with background on who Ada Lovelace was, but this one is my favourite. To get to know her in her own words, New Scientist have managed to secure a rare interview with her…. (well, they mined her correspondence very cleverly)
Even the BBC is promoting the occasion! The BBC has devoted front page coverage on its website to these profiles of female scientists.
The Guardian also has a lower profile, but very thoughtful piece focusing on ‘ women who have excelled in their field but have often been denied both opportunity and recognition’.
The Wellcome Trust publishes a blog by Professor Dame Kay Davies and Sir Mark Walport on the need for flexibility in research careers, which is right up my street.
Ed Yong, a (male, as it happens) science blogger I very much admire compiled an all-female list of top science writers. My favourite, Jenny Rohn appears to be missing. Yours?
Trawling through twitter in search of Ada made me find out about the Double X science blog for women, which although very American, I shall be frequenting from now on.
The UK Resource Centre for Women in Set and the Women in Science and Engineering campaign have merged and therefore the UKRC’s Women of Outstanding Achievement Awards and the WISE Annual Awards will be merged to deliver one prestigious event – The 2012 WISE Awards in association with Amey, to be held in October 2012 at The Institution of Engineering and Technology, London. The WISE Awards will be presented in recognition of the achievement of companies and individuals in promoting science, engineering and construction to girls and young women. The high profile annual photographic exhibition, the Women of Outstanding Achievement Awards, will feature at the same event. The exhibition is a collection of creative and dramatic portraits that profile outstanding contemporary women within science, engineering and technology.
Carol Robinson, a professor in Chemistry at the University of Cambridge who recently moved to University of Oxford wrote an article about the dearth of women at the top of Chemistry.
Carol Robinson describes herself as “the first female chemistry professor at both the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford, which have a combined history in chemistry of about 800 years”, which in itself is quite telling of the nature of the chemical sciences and it explains why she frequently gets asked why so many women leave chemistry at an early stage of their career. In chemistry, the attrition rate from PhD students (46% women) to professorships (6% women) is even bigger than in other traditionally male fields such as engineering and physics.
Carol did not have a traditional academic career. She left school to work in an industrial lab at 16 and eventually working her way through night-school to a point where she could start a PhD. After her PhD she took 8 years off to have her three children during a career break and then came back to a career in science. “Admittedly, after my eight-year absence, it was hard to find a position in science. I had three interviews before convincing a panel that I was committed (one interviewer remembered me positively from my student days).”
She talks about the pros and cons of being interested in dressing well and shoes as a woman in chemistry- and argues that women should not loose their femininity: “By behaving or dressing as honorary men, we only reinforce the macho culture of chemistry”.
Commentary article by Jenny Koenig
In 1994 a chance remark at the end of an article in Nature about “The Rising Tide” report on women in science and engineering helped to move forward the formation of the Association for Women in Science and Engineering (AWiSE). “The Rising Tide” report documented the loss of girls and women to science, engineering and technology (SET) at every stage. So what has changed in the intervening years? Do we still need a network for women scientists and engineers?