When I was studying computer science at college in the UK, one of the things I had to learn was how to write software in the programming language Ada. It’s quite hard compared to languages such as BASIC or C, the languages I was mainly using at the time. Ada is far more rigorous and doesn’t allow for the fast and loose coding I liked – especially when creating my latest game.
One of the things I discovered at that time, and read more about as I left college and found that some of the things they were trying to teach me were actually quite interesting, was that Ada Lovelace inspired Ada. The language was originally designed by the US defense department and named in her honour – because she is the first recorded computer programmer, ever.
This might be a shock to the predominantly male computer programmers of Brazil. A woman beat you and started cutting code first. And not just any woman, but the daughter of a poet.
Lovelace wrote extensively on Babbage’s work, such as the Analytical Engine, and her commentary on the early days of computing and programming stand up today as the best record of those pioneering achievements.
And so that brings me to today – it’s Ada Lovelace day 2011 today.
Bloggers around the world are joining together to promote women who are important or influential in technology today. It’s an important initiative because the technology world needs to involve more women, yet I suspect the computer science higher education classes in Brazil today are still heavily skewed towards catering for men.
The Ada Lovelace day organisers ask each blogger to name a woman involved in technology on their blog, either someone inspirational or interesting, or just someone worth looking up because they have said something interesting. So IT Decisions suggests that you go and check out the research of Jamie Swim, whose Master’s thesis at the University of Texas was entirely focused on female IT professionals in São Paulo.
Jamie’s research explores a few unusual truths about women working in IT in Brazil:
- How come women are welcomed into the IT workforce, but most technical training courses are full of men?
- How come women are still expected to look after the home even when both partners work equal hours?
- How come almost all senior IT positions are held by men, even though women are recognized as better communicators?
It could make some interesting reading for many (men) in the IT business in Brazil. Enjoy the day!
Photo by Andrew Becraft licensed under Creative Commons