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March, 8 International Women’s Day. Once again, mailboxes and social media feeds are full of flowers, chocolate or – worst case – household gadgets. Today is a good day to talk about women’s daily struggle; and we are not talking about the struggle with dirty laundry.

Even in 2021, there is still enough to be done in terms of women’s rights worldwide.
In our field, IT, still only 17% of ICT specialists are women.
For this reason, today we are highlighting the life of a special woman who is considered to be the world’s first programmer: Augusta Ada King-Noel, Countess of Lovelace.

She was born in London in 1825 and – like her mother – became interested in mathematics and science at an early age, which was to have a decisive influence on her future path. She became an employee of Charles Babbage, who developed the Analytical Engine, for which she later did programming: the first calculation of Bernoulli numbers with the Analytical Engine.

Although talented and interested, she was constrained by the rules and laws of her time: She was forbidden to enter libraries and universities because of her primary and secondary sexual characteristics. In short, she was a woman. Through her marriage to William King, 8th Baron King, she nevertheless gained access to more knowledge, because he had himself admitted to the Royal Society on her behalf and was thus able to copy numerous articles for her.

In 1843 she wrote her most important work, the “Notes”. These Notes contain a written plan for calculating Bernoulli numbers with the Analytical Engine, which is considered the first program ever. By differentiating mechanical components and instructions via punched cards, she also laid the foundation for today’s distinction between hardware and software. Her statement that a machine cannot possess cognition because it has no intuition was taken up by Alan Turing in 1950 as “Lady Lovelace’s Objection”.

Ada Lovelace died of cervical cancer at the age of just 36.

Today, the programming language Ada is named after Ada Lovelace, but her important contribution to the natural sciences has almost been forgotten outside of IT and mathematics. We would like to commemorate her groundbreaking research on International Women’s Day.

Have you heard of Mary Kenneth Keller, Evelyn Boyd Granville or Katherine G. Johnson? T3n has highlighted more brilliant women in IT. (German text)

Instead of flowers and chocolates, we want to draw attention to the contribution of women to science and encourage young women to always remain curious.

VNC wishes you a successful International Women’s Day!

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