York University celebrates Ada Lovelace’s legacy

Ada Lovelace, English writer and mathematician

Ada Lovelace, English writer and mathematician (1815-1852) daughter of Lord Byron and friend of Charles Babbage

Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of women’s achievements in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) took place on Oct. 13. Lovelace was a 19th-century English mathematician and writer who also happened to be the very first computer programmer. She wrote what were essentially computer programs for the analytical engine that Charles Babbage, computing pioneer, was designing, but never actually created. Her contributions and achievements had been largely overlooked: an issue that continues to exist for women in many fields, especially science.

York University is joining this international celebration for the first time with two informative Ada Lovelace Day events on Oct. 26 and 29 that are open to everyone with an interest in STEM subjects and the contributions of women.

On Monday Oct. 26, Ryerson University Faculty of Science Dean Imogen Coe will talk about the role of “STEMinism” in the mission to recruit more women into stem fields. Coe was previously the chair of the Department of Biology at York University. She will discuss the ongoing challenges to increasing the percentage of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and why we must all learn to be STEMinists. She regularly blogs about this topic with Huffington Post Canada. Her lecture will take place at 1:30pm in Room 217, Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence, Keele Campus.

The second event on Thursday, Oct. 29, is a drop-in Women in Science Wikipedia Edit-a-thon, which is essentially a workshop that will take place from 10am to 5pm in Room 021 Steacie Science and Engineering Library, Those interested in this event are invited to drop by any time during the day.

“Wikipedia is a great starting point for students to conduct research for their projects. Although the source provides a fountain of knowledge and is rigorously edited and maintained, the community of Wikipedians is mostly made up of male voices, and fails to represent contributions from women. The lack of female voices leads to certain biases in what articles are created, which articles are maintained and updated and which articles are challenged for ‘notability’ or other criteria,” said John Dupuis, York science librarian. “One of the most critically under represented groups in Wikipedia are articles about notable women, in particular women scientists.”

In order to develop a balance and create a positive change, an interdisciplinary team of faculty and students will create, expand and improve Wikipedia entries for women in STEM. This informal workshop will critically examine the information represented on Wikipedia, while at the same time offer hands-on experience on editing articles on the website.

Refreshments will be provided at both events.

To learn more, click on the following links about Ada Lovelace, gender inequality in the Wikipedia community and for more about the event.

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