Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day

Today, March 24th is Ada Lovelace Day. Born in 1815, she was one of the world's first programmers, and wrote programs for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine. Programming until fairly recently was seen as secretarial work and was done mainly by women, it wasn't until the 70s, that a shift occurred and male programmers dominated the field. In honor of Ada Lovelace day many of us have pledged to blog about women in technology.

I am very fortunate to work at a university with so many examples. But I believe there is one person that stands out to me, Dr. Sally Berenson, a former professor at the College of Education who is now at UNCG. Her Girls on Track program, invited middle school girls to come to campus to learn about math, science, and technology. It was her belief (and mine to) that girls lose interest in science & math and are not encouraged to pursue. Her research on women in math and mathematics education is quite extraordinary, and provides an insight into the gender gap that exists in STEM fields. In fact, her GoT program became a longitudinal study looking at the effects of middle school intervention on college major. She has 15 years of data to work with, I think most of us dream about a fun study that provides such rich data, and can change lives.

Beyond that she has been an inspiration to me as someone that has found that balance between work and home life. As someone with a new family, it has been people like Sally that have inspired and encouraged me to find my own balance and to pursue the career I want. Her example has given me hope that I can achieve some modicum of what she has accomplished and not sacrifice my family in the process.

In short, I would like to be her when I grow up.

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