Ada Lovelace Day Highlights Female Role in IT

Oct. 15 was an important day in information technology news, as it celebrated one of the pioneers in the world of computer science.

Known as the "enchantress of numbers," Ada Lovelace, for whom the Oct. 15 commemoration is named, wrote the first computer program way back in 1842. Now, 171 years later, Ada Lovelace Day is a commemoration of the contributions of women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Ada's story
Lovelace was the daughter of the English poet Lord Byron, a pre-eminent member of the Romantic movement that took place in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Among his most famous works were "Don Juan" and "She Walks in Beauty," both of which are hailed as masterpieces of the genre.

Byron and Lovelace's mother, Anne Isabelle Milbanke, split up shortly after Ada was born in 1815, and that break was part of the reason her mother encouraged her to pursue the sciences, as a counterbalance to her father's "dangerous poetic tendencies," according to a profile written for the University of California, San Diego. Ada would never meet her father, who died in Greece eight years after her birth.

Lovelace went on to become part of London's elite intellectual set, becoming close friends and colleagues with the 19th century scientist William Babbage. Babbage did most of his work on "calculating machines," which were essentially early versions of computers.

One of his inventions was called an "Analytical Engine," and Lovelace's work on the project, including her notes and appendices, were the first instances of computer programming in the modern world. They allowed her to leave an enduring mark even though. sadly, she died of cancer in 1852 at the age of 37.

Ada's legacy
As the years have passed, and more people have become aware of the profound impact Lovelace had on the early days of computer science, her example has proven to be one that young women can follow if they are interested in getting an IT degree and pursuing a career in information technology.

Ada Lovelace's remarkable story and important place in the early development of computer science show that not only are there female role models in the IT sector, they were instrumental in the industry's birth.

This article is sponsored by Western Governors University, a nonprofit, accredited, online university. WGU offers bachelor's and master's online degree programs in IT. To find out more, please visit www.wgu.edu/wisecareers_IT.

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