Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ada Lovelace would probably be pissed that she has a day

(Let me caveat this rant by saying that I think it's important to recognize the significant achievements that women have made and are making in science, technology and mathematics. I think the intent of Ada Lovelace Day is good and YAY and etc.)

Doesn't it piss anyone off that we have to have a day to remember the achievements of women in STEM? Because Ada Lovelace day totally annoys me.

I was reading an article about Ada, and read this about her tutor:

So is it really any different today, when we have to have a special day to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in STEM careers? I can imagine how Ada felt, hearing from her tutor that because she'd been born the wrong gender, she really didn't have a chance to lead her field of choice. I can imagine it, because I remember in 11th grade Advanced Trigonometry, when I got the exact same answer (and worked the same process) on a test as my male friend, but he had it marked correct and I had it marked wrong. I took both tests up to my teacher and asked him why. He replied, "It's because you're a girl and girls aren't as good at math." There were only two girls in that class, and the following year there was only one in calculus, because I decided I wasn't going to spend another year with that same teacher being subjected to ridiculous gender bias. (I took calculus in college and aced it, btw.)

This is not an unusual story. There's rarely a day that goes by in the games and tech industries that there isn't an article published about the struggles of women to be treated equally and with respect. I know it's no different in science or math. Those of us who stick it out find coping mechanisms, learn how to pick our battles and seek each other out for support. 

And then once a year, we get to hold up Ada Lovelace as a beacon for other little girls, to have at least ONE role model in STEM to whom we can refer when we tell our students and daughters that there is a place for them in medicine or math or robotics or physics or programming. I don't want to have to tell my daughters to lean in. I don't want to tell them they should wear high heels to make them look taller when dealing with all of the men in the gaming industry. I don't want to tell them that there are so few women in these fields that we have to have a special day. I want them to know that they are smart enough and geeky enough and logical enough and techy enough to outperform their male peers in any field they choose. I want my sons to know that women are a force to be reckoned with, not dismissed. 

So thank you, Ada Lovelace, for being our role model. I think the best way to honor you is by ensuring that there's a long list of women that make your day irrelevant.


  1. I hope you write a book so all young women in school can read it. You are so positive and know it would be a benefit. Making speeches at high schools would be even better. I remember.

    1. I can't thank you personally, anonymous, but I can't tell you how much I appreciate the compliment. It's always scary to put yourself and your thoughts out in the world, but it makes it worth it when you think that maybe you have made someone think, or helped someone feel less alone, or maybe even given someone a nudge to try something new.

      And funny, I DID write a book, but it's on immersive learning (so not really the same ;). Maybe for my next book?