For five years now, fans of female scientists have set aside the date of Oct. 15th to recognize their accomplishments, naming the effort after the remarkable Ada Lovelace, a 19th century woman who began her life as the only child of the poet Lord Byron with his wife. Lovelace then went on to write the first algorithm intended to be used by a machine, rendering her, in effect, the world's first computer programmer.
The early years of celebrating Lovelace and other women saw requests for people around the world to blog about women in science. But many of the celebrations held across 10 countries for Tuesday's Ada Lovelace Day will be like the one planned at Brown University, where organizers are holding an "edit-a-thon.'' Participants will be asked to make new Wikipedia entries on women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as the STEM fields.
Over the past few years, the U.S. and the U.K. both have seen a series of brouhahas about how women are erased from the public eye, whether unintentionally, unconsciously or accidentally. There’ve been dust-ups over why more notable women aren’t featured on British currency; why women are missing as keynote or panel speakers in technology or journalism conferences; and why Wikipedia is overwhelmingly written and edited by men.
Wikimedia, the foundation that runs the online, volunteer-created and -curated reference source, has itself revealed that imbalance in surveys which showed that nine out of ten of its contributors - “editors,” in Wikipedia jargon - were men.