You have to hand it to Ada Lovelace– a woman who wrote the world’s first computer program. Truly an unsung heroine in the history of science and technology.
Ada Lovelace Day is a great day to celebrate not only a brilliant woman, but all brilliant women who have made some small contribution to science and technology. They may be unsung heroines, or their success may have been overshadowed by a more famous counterpart.
One unsung heroine for me is Kath Fogarty, who was my Year 11 maths teacher. She was formidable, with a voice that could cut through the hubbub of chattering schoolgirls. She could explain the trickiest of concepts so everyone could understand. She had been there years before I was at secondary school and she was there for years afterwards. The church could not contain the number of people and old girls at her funeral.
What I admired about her was her tireless championing of girls studying the non-traditional subjects of maths and science. Some of my best friends heeded her advice and went on to work in metereology, veterinary science and environmental science. Me- I became a librarian…
I WILL say that one of my favourite subjects at school was maths, and I briefly studied mathematics at uni before realising my limitations and changing subjects. And I’m sure that it will be me that my children will come to for help with their maths when they’re of school age.
Another female mathematician of note for me is Delia Darbyshire. She studied mathematics and music at Cambridge, then went on to the BBC, where she became attached to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. Using purely electronic sources, she created a recording that has become one of TV’s most recognisable themes for Doctor Who. Ron Grainer may have created devised the score, but it was Delia who realised the dream.
Happy Ada Lovelace Day!