Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

"I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same."

— Suw Charman-Anderson

Thus Ada Lovelace Day was born. I learned about this from a story in The Guardian (of course). While there are organizations to help bring together women in technology, like Women in Technology and the Anita Borg Institute (don't you want to join the Borg?), the profile of women in technology remains low and girls are still not encouraged to follow technological careers.

The Borg institute offers "Women of Vision" awards to help address this imbalance. One of the recipients of this year's awards is Professor Jan Cuny of the National Science Foundation, who's doing work on recruiting and retaining women in the field of computer science and engineering. Not surprisingly, the study includes the following recognitions:

There is strong evidence, for example, that women, even though they perform at the same levels, have less confidence in their abilities and individual accomplishments than men [2][17][36][39][43]. Women are often less aggressive than male students in promoting themselves, attempting new or challenging activities, and pursuing awards or fellowships. There is evidence that females come to computing as only one interest among many, and are thus less single-minded than their male counterparts [27]. Often women report feeling “out of place” in the male-dominated, hacker culture [3][22][28]. In light of such differences, some of our recommendations are gender-specific. Most, however, are not. The adoption of our recommendations would improve the educational environment for all students.

I think a lot of women in academia experience this (and probably a lot of women not in academia, too), although I imagine it must be exacerbated in fields that remain overwhelmingly male. Wonderful to know that the issues are being articulated and addressed -- and that they are likely to improve the lot of all students.

Hurrah for Jan and all women in technology!


Isabel Roman said...

the Anita Borg Institute (don't you want to join the Borg?)

HA! Oh the irony, I love it. However, I also love the site. Thanks for posting it, I'd never heard of it before, but plan to spend some time searching it.

Cranky Yankee said...

Thanks Kate, I need a reason to start blogging again.

Especially since my academic interests have started to take me into a realm I never thought of pursuing: Digital History.

K. A. Laity said...

Isabel -- I know, isn't it a hoot?! I'm so glad to have learned about the site, too.

Cranky -- Yay! Glad to hear you'll be blogging. Digital history sounds very cool. Wow, it's amazing where your learning is taking you, eh? Yay, you!