Women in Science: Still Thin on the Ground But Not For Too Long


I have started curating stories for SciLogs.com’s The Aggregator, In brief, the idea is to have resources collected when an interesting story happens. I did this one for Ada Lovelace Day 2012, but as it relates to Women in Science and Research in general, we can have Ada Lovelace Day everyday 🙂

Ada Lovelace Day in a Nutshell

Finding Ada defines it:

Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians — who have inspired you to become who you are today. The aim is to create new role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM.

All the events worldwide were listed on the dedicated website as well as many great stories featured. ‘The National Geographic’ also nicely introduces Lady Ada. If you want to discover Ada Lovelace from different perspective(s), check out this collection of resources by Angela Quarles. You may also be interested to read John Graham Cumming’s thoughts who wonders why Ada Lovelace have been preferred to Marie Curie.

Founder of the event, Suw Charman-Anderson invited to “honour the unsung women” who also speaks on a panel highlighting the obstacles female scientists and techies still face. Rebeka Higgitt discusses the place of women in history of science as Athene Donald highlights several remarkable scientists from earlier ages, and Tor.com has a fabulous collection of illustrations of Ada’s different science flavours through the centuries.

Celebrating Women in Science and Technology in 2012

‘The Occasional Pamphlet on Scholarly Communication’ presents Karen Spärck Jones, a computational linguist and “the only female winner of the Lovelace Medal awarded by the British Computer Society.” Evil Mad Scientist Labs, “making the world a better place, one Evil Mad Scientist at a time”, briefly highlights the people behind the Open Source Hardware Association along with many others involved in the Open Hardware movement as a whole.

‘The Mary Sue’, “a place for two things: highlighting women in the geek world, and providing a prominent place for the voices of geek women”, highlights a great deal of reading material among which the fabulous story of Mary Somerville on the 2DGoggles. The ‘NativeHQ’ presents Dr Kelly Page, “a highly versatile thinker who has no problem recasting the original question, category or definition on the basis of what happens along the way.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) briefly presents ’12 pioneering women in tech’, and Renata Avila from Creative Commons Guatemala writes an inspiring account on scientists and techies for Global Voices. Cathy Casserly from Creative Commons introduces “Women, Tech and OER” (Open Educational Resources) while Clarisse Thorn announces the release of her most recent anthology, “Violation: Rape In Gaming”.

A great number of women in various fields of technology and engineering were brought in the light: Dame Stephanie ‘Steve’ Shirley, “a great example of a woman creating a technology company and then using her wealth and influence to create a better society for all”; Jamillah Knowles, a real “tech hurricane” dynamizing The Next Web and the BBC, among others; I leave you the great pleasure to uncover the three women ReadWriteWeb’s Robyn Tippins has chosen to “highlight three remarkable women who made the earth just a little cooler for having been a part of it, just like Ada.”

Forbes publishes a beautiful infographic from IEEE presenting several bright women in engineering and computer science. Ed Yong chooses to present a crowd of talespinners: he introduces us to science writers. Personal opinion: If you are in urgent need of great stories to read, this is definitely a post for you; don’t forget to check the comments out as they also contain interesting names.

You’ve certainly heard about the edit-a-thon Wikipedia and the Royal Society co-organized. A great number of media outlets amongst which the BBC, Jezebel, SmartPlanet, etc. introduced it. Franck from the Occam’s Typewriter reflects on the event and his own participation, and Nature published a description of the event from Ed Yong along with an insightful discussion explaining the need to raise women scientists profiles from Athene Donald. Less advertised but always valuable was the edit-a-thon at Harvard University.

Amongst the many stories, ‘Planet Paola’ celebrates two women scientists from Italy, and ‘The Contemplative Mammouth’ honoured Dr. E. C. Pielou. Matthew Hyde writes about Malala Yousufzai, and MathsPlus introduces an inspiring number of women mathematicians and engineers. Lecta presented Marita Cheng, the founder of Robogals and Else Shepherd, a leading electrical engineer from Australia. Last but not least, Quest celebrates “a mathematician, a physicist and a geologist through art” and the BBC provides an exciting interview with four women scientists.

I have curated a Storify of the afternoon workshop below. You can browse additional tweets using the hashtag #ALD12. As an end note, let me suggest a few articles and studies addressing the women participation in science and technology in a more detailed and less day-focused fashion:

Personal opinion: My guess is we can continue these efforts on a regular basis taking half an hour from time to time to add and/or edit a profile. With this respect, here are 2 lists of important women in science (Discovery Magazine and the Smithsonianmag.org, respectively) you may want to include in Wikipedia. Last but not least, I’d like to remind you/introduce you to This Is What a Scientist Looks Like, an incredibly rich collection of pictures sent by the everyday heroes of science: ourselves.