Every year we hear the lament, "Where are all the women in tech?" Whether it's after another conference with an all-male line-up or pointing out the paucity of female tech movers and shakers, every year the debate comes around.
The truth is, there are some amazing women in tech. Not as many as we would like, perhaps, but nevertheless there are women doing brilliant work across the spectrum of tech industry roles. Women sysadmins, developers, entrepreneurs and hardware hackers. Women tech consultants, journalists, researchers and thinkers. Yet mostly these women go undiscovered and this lack of recognition conceals the value of their contributions.
Last year, I stumbled upon some research by psychologist Penelope Lockwood who discovered that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male ones. It seemed to me that at last here was a tractable problem: We can easily create more female tech role models simply by talking about the women in tech around us. So was Ada Lovelace Day born, an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science.
Named after Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, who wrote the first computer programmes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, the first Ada Lovelace Day was a huge success. It attracted nearly 2000 signatories to the pledge and 2000 more people who signed up on Facebook. Over 1200 people added their post to the Ada Lovelace Day 2009 mash-up. The day itself was covered by BBC News Channel, BBC.co.uk, Radio 5 Live, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Metro, Computer Weekly, and VNUnet, as well as hundreds of blogs worldwide.
This year, Ada Lovelace Day will again be held on 24th March. We hope to get 3072 people to sign the pledge and blog about their tech heroine. And that's where we desperately need your help! With only a little over a month to go, we still need to spread the word and get 2400 more people signed up!
Please sign the pledge now, tell your friends, and send a message to any mailing lists or groups that you think might be interested in joining us. Once you've signed the pledge, the most important thing you can do to help is spread the word. Every signatory, every blog post is important. If we want to change the world, change the way women in tech are viewed, then we need to make Ada Lovelace Day 2010 another rocking success!
Ada Lovelace Day is organised by Suw Charman-Anderson, with design and development support from TechnoPhobia and hosting from UKHost4U. Suw was the first Executive Director of the Open Rights Group.