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Programming Math Science Technology

Happy Ada Lovelace Day (findingada.com) 187

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a time to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM fields. Several publications have put together lists of notable women to commemorate the day, such as tech pioneers, robotics experts, and historical engineers and scientists. Other are taking the opportunity to keep pushing against the elements of tech culture that remain sexist. From the BBC: On Ada Lovelace Day, four female engineers from around the world share their experiences of working in male-dominated professions. When Isis Anchalee's employer OneLogin asked her to take part in its recruitment campaign, she didn't rush to consult the selfie-loving Kardashian sisters for styling tips. "I was wearing very minimal make-up. I didn't brush my hair that day," she said. But the resulting image of Ms Anchalee created a social media storm when it appeared on Bart, the San Francisco metro. Lots of people questioned whether she really was an engineer. "It was not just limited to women — it resonates with every single person who doesn't fit with what the stereotype should look like," she said.

"My parents, my brother, my community, all were against me," said Sovita Dahal of her decision to pursue a career in technology. "I was going against traditional things. In my schooldays I was fascinated by electronic equipment like motors, transformers and LED lights. Later on this enthusiasm became my passion and ultimately my career," she said.

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Happy Ada Lovelace Day

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  • Here's to more women in the techincal workplace. They deserve it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by epyT-R ( 613989 )

      Hopefully because they earned it, not because 'social justice.'

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darinbob ( 1142669 )

        If they do earn it, half their misogynist colleagues will still think they didn't deserve it and are diversity or affirmative action hires. On slashdot it seems that even encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields is wrong headed, like we're supposed to stand back and patiently wait for stereotypes and preconcpetions and barriers to dissolve by themselves.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by epyT-R ( 613989 )

          If they do earn it, half their misogynist colleagues will still think they didn't deserve it and are diversity or affirmative action hires

          Well, there you go. Time for affirmative action to go, right? That's why social justice policy is the real threat. It oppresses both men and women by corralling them into oppressor and victim roles, respectively, instead of treating them as individuals.

          • I don't necessarily think it needs to go. Passive action is the problem, people sitting back and assuming that problems will fix themselves. As in declare that the slaves are free without any followup for one hundred years.

            • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

              The counterargument from the anti-'social justice' crowd is that affirmative action is its own form of discrimination. It categorizes people into classes based on attributes that aren't supposed to matter, and then judges them accordingly. The system should be looking at people as individual humans first, not as a collections of skin tones or genitals. If 'a' woman or man claims to have been discriminated against (or another discriminated FOR) on attributes that the person thinks are irrelevant, the right

              • Once you've divided society into stratified classes you have discrimination. That discrimination does not vanish merely because those in power said they were sorry and promise not to do it again. A declaration of equality does not create equality. So how does it get solved? Do you remain passive so that the historically disadvantaged people remain disadvantaged, or do you try to correct things which results in a few historically advantaged people becoming slightly less advantaged? It's discrimination e

                • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

                  The key point is right at the beginning "Once you stratify.." The premise is wrong. Comparing it historically, society, today is anything but stratified, never mind by some conspiratorial force that conveniently needs another conspiracy to fight it. Just because certain traits don't represent equally in a given population isn't proof them being kept out either. Ensuring people aren't shut out of opportunities based on irrelevancies is fine, but the moment you let some cut ahead of others to force equality

                  • Society today is stratified. How can you deny that? Do you think poor minorities are that way because of genetics? If you grow up in an impoverished neighborhood it is extremely difficult to get out of it. And many neighborhoods are that way because of past racism. We had segregation for a hundred years and slavery before that, the effects of that history have not vanished. We had white-flight that effectively nullified integration. Stratification is all around us. It may not be as bad as it used to

              • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                It's not about dividing people, it's about recognizing that the divisions already exist. To say that a young black person is completely equal to a young white person is at best a nice aspiration, but in the real world there are still race issues that will affect one of them far more than the other. Offering assistance does not create those race issues, it just recognizes and tries to correct or offset them.

                We need to be clear about a couple of other common misconceptions you illustrate too.

                It's not about gu

                • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

                  You mean a convenient assumption of divisions? For the most part, divisions exist on merit as they should. Sometimes, individuals use irrational discriminators to either reject or accept other individuals, and that should be dealt with. However...

                  The feminists (and their social justice relatives) don't like merit because it conflicts with the precepts of socialist ideology. Their definition of equality is equal outcome at any cost, ie we're all interchangeable drones, and "gender is a social construct",

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            FWIW - I'm mixed racially and I think affirmative action should never have been a policy. Affirmative action is telling me that I'm unable to do it on my own - that I'm incapable of succeeding on my own merits and that I must have help from the people who were supposedly oppressing me. Now I have bumped into overt racists. I just chalk it up to them being ignorant and go on my way - I do my task as well as I'd have normally done and continue to strive to do the same things i'd have done even if I'd not enco

        • If they do earn it, half their misogynist colleagues will still think they didn't deserve it and are diversity or affirmative action hires. On slashdot it seems that even encouraging girls to pursue STEM fields is wrong headed, like we're supposed to stand back and patiently wait for stereotypes and preconcpetions and barriers to dissolve by themselves.

          And many of us think there is NO problem really...that this is solution or outrage in search of a problem.

          I'm not any more worried about this than I am the

          • But women are migrating AWAY from computing. There is no innate bias from genetic here. I remember when there were many more women in engineering, I remember working with them, and I would like that to come back. I hate the modern male-only offices. But I am NOT stealing your job, I am not trying to get you fired in order to hire someone else. All I want is to encourage women to come back to computing, and break down barriers that discourage them.

      • Re:Here here! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @04:11PM (#50720317) Homepage

        As the BBC article mentions, one of the problems women face is that when they do make it people start muttering about how they probably only got there to fill a quota or improve the company's image. Congrats on being part of the problem.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Gee, I wonder why people mutter about that? I wonder if it might be because they could be right!

          I'm reminded of a recent study about how our "everyone gets a trophy" culture, designed to never let a child's self esteem be hurt, is actually hurting children's self esteem. It turns out that children are capable of evaluating their own performance and can figure out when they perform relatively worse or better. When they see that adults lie to them regardless of how well they do, they assume that even when the

        • As the BBC article mentions, one of the problems women face is that when they do make it people start muttering about how they probably only got there to fill a quota or improve the company's image.

          Then you should certainly be strongly against any such quotas or image-based hiring. Because while such mutterings can be dismissed as the babble of the ignorant and subject the mutterer to rebuke when it _isn't_ true, it would be churlish to rebuke the mutterer when it is true.

  • Wait a minute (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @03:05PM (#50719781)

    Read these carefully. The woman in Nepal describes her problems as "My parents, my brother, my community, all were against me... Nepalese women are still expected to marry at the age of about 21, go to live with their husbands and raise a family"

    The others have "problems" such as "Lots of people questioned whether she really was an engineer" which made the woman feel "helpless", "pictures of topless women in the cabins", and a woman from China who described no problems at all by SJ standards (she says that women and men think differently, which is a no-no).

    The article is trying to conflate an actual problem that results in actual discrimination but did not happen in the West, with non-problems, in an attempt to equate them. It's more SJ clickbait.

    • "Lots of people questioned whether she really was an engineer"

      Yeah no problem at all. I bet that has no effect on jobs and opportunities, nosireee.

      No one has *ever* questioned me when I say I'm an engineer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm tall, have long hair, I don't wear glasses and ride a Harley to work.
        Oh, and I'm an engineer. I get asked about it all the time.

        Should I be screaming Misogyny at people when they do?
        Is that the correct response now?

        Because I could totally do that.

        To answer why that person in the poster is getting questioned about it, she's young and attractive.
        And I mean she's attractive enough to model for a poster, which to be honest, most people hire a model for just that purpose.

      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        Well, if a man's ability was questioned in the same manner, we'd want to know the truth, right? Why not the same for a woman?

        • Well, if a man's ability was questioned in the same manner, we'd want to know the truth, right? Why not the same for a woman?

          huh?

      • That ONE single post she quotes as an example of "Lots of people" went like this (retyped for your reading pleasure):

        This is some weird haphazard branding. I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes.
        Perhaps that's the intention all along. But I'm curious people with brains find this quote remotely plausible and if women in particular buy this image of what female software engineer looks like. Idk. Weird.

        The post never questions whether she is an engineer OR what an engineer should look like.
        It questions a trite marketing-lingo quote ("My team is great. Everyone is smart, creative and hilarious.") - which was at the center of the puns aimed at the campaign poster before SJW's showed up... [cloudfront.net]
        ...and a stereotypical image of a representation of a female techie - when supposedly aimed at w

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          She looks almost like my daughter. How odd. My daughter's finished med school and is now working in an emergency room. I don't think anyone questions if she's a doctor. At least not in this day and age. They might have back when I was a kid though. Seriously, they might have.

          • by KGIII ( 973947 )

            Also, she has a rather unfortunate name. Not my daughter - the lady in the image you linked. I'm glad I didn't name my daughter 'Isis.' Actually, the thought never crossed my mind.

          • Was your daughter used as poster child, representing an ethnic and racial AND "gender" minority whose poster child persona was used to promote "hilarious and creative greatness" of her team - while poster boys talked shop in their posters?

            Would you question a representation of your daughter's career choice summed up with her photo and "My team is great. Everyone is smart, creative and hilarious." - while REAL doctors talked about saving lives and helping people in their representations of their careers, rig

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The woman from Nepal certainly had it the worst, by the sounds of it. It's different manifestations of the same thing though. Her family didn't think being an engineer was a "feminine" thing to do, that it was men's work and she should put finding a husband a raising a family first. One of the others had a similar but less severe problem with people not taking per seriously or seeming to assume that because she was attractive she must be a model and not a real employee doing real engineering.

      The architect h

      • by s.petry ( 762400 )

        The woman from Nepal certainly had it the worst, by the sounds of it.

        So the woman must go find a career and work her ass off to be something, and raising a family has no value, right? It's really sad that so many people buy into this corporate bullshit.

        Yes, there is certainly some discrimination and its bad when it happens. What the person from Nepal describes I don't see as discrimination, I see it as society normal. *read it all before hyperventilating in anger* Twenty one years old is the middle of a woman's prime health and the best time for her to have kids. Most s

        • Re:Wait a minute (Score:5, Insightful)

          by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @05:02PM (#50720817) Journal

          So the woman must go find a career and work her ass off to be something, and raising a family has no value, right? It's really sad that so many people buy into this corporate bullshit.

          Wow that's selective reading to the point of dishonesty. No one said anything like that anywhere. Point is she was under immense pressure to do the family thing not have a career. It ought to be her choice, not yours.

          Yes, there is certainly some discrimination and its bad when it happens. What the person from Nepal describes I don't see as discrimination, I see it as society normal.

          So... a discriminatory society is not discriminatory because it's normal...?

          Twenty one years old is the middle of a woman's prime health and the best time for her to have kids

          So what? You're arguing what precisely? That she ought to do what you want because reasons?

          Until men can carry kids to full term and breast feed, there will be an expectation that the woman handles all of the difficult parts of having children. Pregnancy and childbirth are extremely demanding, and parenting is extremely difficult to do well.

          Nice sneaky false conflation there. Nothing about carrying kids to term stops men from being parents. Even stay at home ones.

          Instead of celebrating parenting and trumpeting how critical it is for society, we push "go make money and spend money" as the high road. That, is really really sad.

          And the reason that happens is people like you: instead of actually celebrating parenthood, you are complaining that other people are not living life the way you want them to which in practice mans women raising kids rather than having jobs. You're not celebrating parenthood, you're advocating regressive ideals.

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Most of the people who post comments like the GP's don't really want to celebrate parenthood. They oppose things like more paid maternity and paternity leave, equal wages for people with the the added responsibility of children, and resent them rushing off at 5 when they feel obliged to work to 6 to get everything done.

            Society as a whole needs kids. We all have a stake in society's future. Rather than trying to pressure women into becoming mothers because it suits us, we should recognize that the majority o

            • by s.petry ( 762400 )

              Ahh, so you ignore my comments _and_ claim that my comments mean the opposite of what I said. How about asking for clarity if you are confused about someone's opinion (which was pretty damn clear) instead of inventing your own to suite your bias?

              My point is, and was, that women are being pushed into a workplace by society. Parenthood and marriage are not just ignored, but treated with disdain. Show me one of these types of articles that mentions the positives of parenting as opposed to touting how great

              • >You can't show me any such article because they do not exist.

                When your table is always forced to eat beans, and you start demanding some steak - that does not mean you are looking down on other people at your table who enjoy beans and may want some. It just means you don't need to demand beans because you already GOT all the beans you can handle, you do need to demand steak because somewhere a long time ago, a bunch of people who didn't consult your table declared that, that table is only allowed to eat

        • So the woman must go find a career and work her ass off to be something, and raising a family has no value, right?

          What has value is unencumbered freedom of choice. If a woman chooses to be an engineer, that is a valid choice. If a woman chooses to stay home and raise a family, that too is a valid choice; if she combines both, that's another valid choice.

          We go wrong when we assume, based on our own values and choices, what someone else should choose to do. It's not up to us, it's up to them.

        • Until men can carry kids to full term and breastfeed

          Give it time - we've already got the second Parr more or less covered . :-)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The big takeaway is that Tu Youyou managed a Nobel Prize working under a true patriarchal society, under threat from China's cultural revolution, and without a postgraduate degree or study or research experience abroad; nor was she a member of any Chinese national academy.

      She has also managed to save millions of lives.

      Compare and contrast that to the SJ narrative about women in science.

      In a sense, I suppose western women need the SJ narrative as when compared to women actual producing results and with orde

  • Grace Hopper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by i_ate_god ( 899684 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @03:19PM (#50719927) Homepage

    She did far more for computer science than Ada Lovelace, and she did far more at defying social gender norms than Ada Lovelace.

    If anyone should be celebrated for breaking social barriers AND important contributions at the same time, it should be her, not Lovelace.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • She did far more for computer science than Ada Lovelace, and she did far more at defying social gender norms than Ada Lovelace.

      If anyone should be celebrated for breaking social barriers AND important contributions at the same time, it should be her, not Lovelace.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      Or, try going back further into history, like Hypatia or Pythagoras' wife, Theano, and daughters. I'm sure there are more in the eastern cultures as well that may predate those examples. No, it has to be a white chick from Britain that we honor. What a crock of shit!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Or, you know, we could just stop fixating on the name of the day and distracting ourselves from the many deserving women mentioned in TFA and the issues raised in TotherFA.

      • Re:Grace Hopper (Score:5, Informative)

        by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @04:03PM (#50720261)

        Ada Lovelace gets the role because she was the first "programmer" (male or female) for a hypothetical automatic computation machine. Not for being first female STEM major, or first female scientist, or first feminist, or anything like that. People used to be proud of her for being the first programmer. Being the first tends to be the person that gets remembered.

        Ok, her being a "programmer" is slightly dubious, as no such machine existed. But in computer science terms she layed out the abstract framework for programming.

        • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

          Ok, her being a "programmer" is slightly dubious, as no such machine existed. But in computer science terms she layed out the abstract framework for programming.

          She also did much of the work in actually laying out specifically how Babbage's machine actually worked, publishing it, and promoting it to help him get funding. Without her, Babbage's ideas would have been mere vaporware. So if the dude gets to hog all the credit for being the "father of computing" for his two (never fully built) engines, then its more than fair to give her credit for writing actual programs for it, which is only a part of what she contributed. She honestly deserves her title more than Bab

    • by Faust6 ( 4161211 )
      How does one invalidate the other?
    • Re:Grace Hopper (Score:4, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @03:28PM (#50719999) Journal

      Well, down that road lies a pissing contest with no end.

      Ada Lovelace was the first person to realise that an arithmetic machine could represent more than mere arithmetic. That was the first step on the path leading to the Church-Turing thesis. It seems simple and obvious now, but the general idea of computation as you think of it didn't exist.

      Admiral Hopper did a lot too and is also worth of celebration.

      • You realize that the phrase pissing contest is gender-exclusive, right? You should use a term like one-upmanship ... oh man! Wait... noooooo!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      She did far more for computer science than Ada Lovelace, and she did far more at defying social gender norms than Ada Lovelace.

      If anyone should be celebrated for breaking social barriers AND important contributions at the same time, it should be her, not Lovelace.

      It's high time we limit people to celebrating one female historical figure. I'm tired of all these SJWs trying to mention more than one, because everyone knows that men only celebrate their achievements on one day a year.

      - RooshV

  • by DavidHumus ( 725117 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @03:38PM (#50720087)

    As far as I know, Lovelace elaborated some of the theoretical aspects of programming but, since Babbage never finished his "Analytical Engine", she never had to do the hard work of getting code to run on actual hardware. To my mind, this is the nitty-gritty of coding. Without this, Lovelace cannot be anything more than a software architecht, albeit a "PowerPoint architect" (without the PowerPoint) - http://randomactsofarchitectur... [randomacts...ecture.com] .

    • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @04:00PM (#50720231) Journal

      Church's lambda calculus did not run on a real machine at the time. Neither did LISP at the time of its invention. Based on what's known of the analytical engine, Ada Lovelace's programs would have run correctly.

      Very much early computer science was not done on actual computers, especially in the 1950s in mainland Europe. I remember going to a talk by Dijkstra shortly before his death where he talked about this a bit. Things were so wiped out after the war that no one could afford a computer. So they did stuff on paper.

      But by your measure, you've just dismissed Dijkstra's early years as nothing more than a software architect.

      • Yes. Yes, I did.

      • I think the distinction is maybe more between a computer scientist and a programmer. If we were to accept her as the latter, it might require significantly broadening the definition. At least the usual understanding of the term as being a practical vocation can't possibly apply since nobody paid her for the job. It is not generally understood in the sense of "any person that at least once in life formalizes or semi-formalizes a computational process" today.
        • Since when does "programmer" imply "vocation"? Serious question, in case I wasn't clear. What do you base this claim on?

          Was Linux not a programmer when he wrote the early versions of the Linux kernel?
          Was Stallman not a programmer when he re-implemented the commercial version of Emacs as an open-source program?
          Am I not a programmer because, despite having written thousands of lines of C++ in the last week, I did it on my own time and for reasons only mildly related to my day job (which involves computers, bu

    • Read her stuff. She got it. Here is a quote from a review by Countess Lovelace of an article about the Analytical Engine by an Italian engineer, Menabrea, that neatly sums up the multidisciplinary nature of computer architecture: "We refer the reader to the ‘Edinburgh Review’ of July 1834, for a very able account of the Difference Engine. The writer of the article we allude to has selected as his prominent matter for exposition, a wholly different view of the subject from that which M. Menabrea
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Lots of noted computer scientists have written software for machines that didn't exist. No-one built a Turing machine during Turing's lifetime, for example. Several people wrote software for quantum computers before they existed.

      Writing theoretical software for theoretical machines is a useful way of figuring out if they are worth building or if the design could be modified to perform better. Lovelace's work influenced Babbage's later designs, which in turn influenced the development of other machines that

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday October 13, 2015 @03:53PM (#50720173) Journal
    The reason people got upset about the ad is because it's clearly trying to use her attractiveness to get attention.

    The ad itself is sexist.
    Its using sex appeal to get people to do things.
    People get upset because they know its a lie. Working at that company will not get you surrounded by beautiful women.

    It has nothing to do with the model they used, and whether she's a programmer or not.
    It's the experience her managers are trying to sell.
    • The reason people got upset about the ad is because it's clearly trying to use her attractiveness to get attention.

      I suppose you could get that if you were looking at her ad in isolation, but it appears to be a series of ads that includes two guys [cloudfront.net] of whom nobody probably questioned the validity of their acclaimed professions. It's not her fault that she's easy to look at.

      • I saw them all when they were live in BART.
        I wondered whether they were real or not, then moved on with my day.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's interesting. I hadn't considered that.

      My experience has been that the whole Ada Lovelace story carries with it the toxic baggage that things haven't changed in regards to gender and programming since her time. Wasn't there a film somebody wanted to make where some woman invents a time machine and takes Lovelace to the present day just so she can admonish all those evil cis male misogynerds for being just as sexist as the 19th century? Lovelace did face some incredible barriers she was able to brea

    • This was my reaction too. Most of us working in highly technical fields have encountered stunningly beautiful (but nonetheless competent) female engineers. We are also acutely aware of the fact that women in general are very underrepresented in software development. I'm 100% in favor of encouraging more women to pursue technical careers, but in the current environment, my reaction whenever I see an ad like that is to assume it's trying to manipulate lonely male engineers. (Which probably says more about

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The reason people got upset about the ad is because it's clearly trying to use her attractiveness to get attention.

      I don't think that is supposed by the evidence. There were three ads, two of them with male engineers who also worked at the company. She didn't put on make-up or brush her hair, or go out of her way to look alluring or like a model.

      What upset people is that if it had been a good looking guy people would not have assumed he couldn't be an engineer. She also mentions getting this reaction in person. It's hard to believe but I've seen it happen. We had a rep from Seagate come over, she was extremely attractiv

      • She didn't put on make-up or brush her hair

        Dude, the article says she wore make-up and her hair has a part.

      • What upset people is that if it had been a good looking guy people would not have assumed he couldn't be an engineer.

        You seriously think this is true? Really and actually?

        The stereotype is *absolutely* that engineers are not good-looking people of any gender. A good looking Calvin Klein-style (or wherever it is the hot guys are nowadays) man would *absolutely* take flack over whether he was a real engineer or just a model. Frankly the assumption is that people in any of those kinds of ads *are* models and it's sort of a surprise if *anyone* in an ad isn't (and even when they say "real customer" in a commercial I'm not sur

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