Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating the accomplishments of women in STEM fields

Elizabeth T. Kinney (from Smithsonian collection)Now that I have a niece, I have become even more aware of the amazing female role models that can inspire her to learn and succeed in whatever way she chooses. Women have been instrumental in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) since ancient times (Hello, Hypatia!). Children have survived leukemia because of the work of Nobel Prize winner Gertrude B. Elion. Mathmetician Katherine G. Johnson calculated the flight trajectory for the first American to go into space in 1959. You wouldn’t be reading this blog if not for the work of Grace Hopper, who advanced computers beyond binary. Yet we still tend to think of the accomplishments in these fields as belonging almost exclusively to men.

Ada Lovelace Day, happening this year on October 15, 2013, aims to change that. Named after early programmer Ada Lovelace, Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This year’s events include lectures, meet-ups, and a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon to edit and create Wikipedia entries on women who have made significant contributions to the STEM fields.

In honor of my niece and all of the other young girls (and boys) in my life who might design the vaccine or software that changes the world, I am celebrating this week by learning and spreading the word about women in STEM past and present. The Anita Borg Institute has some fascinating profiles of women in technology; Eastern Illinois University rounds up biographies of women in science and Agnes Scott College brings us bios of women mathematicians through history; and I can’t get enough of this amazing set of photographs of women in science from the Smithsonian.

And I definitely got schooled watching this epic rap battle between Rosalind Franklin and Watson and Crick. (Don’t miss the shoutout to Shirley Anne Jackson at 2:27!)

Want to learn more? Check out the incredible reads below or contact a librarian. And let us know about your favorite woman in STEM in the comments!


My 5-year-old daughter and I just read "Mary Walker Wears the Pants" by Cheryl Harness last night, and she was amazed that there was a time, not so long ago, when woman were ridiculed for wearing pants! She was also amazed that most doctors were men at that time, when every doctor she's ever come in contact with has been a woman. It was an excellent opportunity to talk about how awesome us ladies are (woot, woot!) and for us to talk about how, beyond male or female, young or old, rich or poor, the most important thing is to stand true to yourself. And I want to give a shout out to the library, both for bringing important issues like women in the sciences up and for giving me the opportunity to check out a bunch of books, on whatever topic my daughter and I are interested in at the moment, learn all we can and then bring them back, for free! Thank you! And one last thing, it would be great to have a similar list to what you made above, but in children's books. Thanks again!
Thanks for the library love! And a list of children's books is a brilliant idea! We have added it below the other reading list. Let us know if we missed anything good!

Add new comment