Wednesday, March 24, 2010

In Honour of the Woman in Technology I Nearly Am - My Ada Lovelace Pledge

OK, I've been struggling to come up with a subject for my Ada Lovelace Day blog post, but I couldn't get out of my mind that Ada Lovelace Day, today, 24th March, happens to be my mother's birthday. Emma Louise Kaufman Donnelly, known to most as Emmy Lou, is no longer with us, but she still inspires me because she taught me that I could do whatever I wanted to do with my life. I don't think she ever sat in front of a computer - can't even remember if she had a VCR - but she taught me to not be afraid of taking on the world.

Because I had really good grades in Math in high school, including a 100% on my Trig Regents, my mother tried to encourage me, in her very subtle way, to study Math in college. Maybe she could have been a bit more persuasive, but that wasn't her way. It was my life and I needed to decide these things for myself; and I chose a school with more of a focus on liberal arts and I kept changing my concentration but mainly I thought I wanted to be a writer of some sort. I never did make it as a writer (there's still time for me yet), but through the years I've held a number of really interesting and challenging jobs, many with some technical focus and sometimes in traditionally male dominated areas.

I won't recite my resume here, but through my life in making choices about my education and career, I had my mother's words and belief in me in the back of my mind. So maybe it's not the women in technology that we need to honour today, but the mother's of these women who gave them the strength to make choices that weren't always the mainstream way of doing things - in their choices in education, career, lifestyle, etc. In fact in the biography of Ada Lovelace at it says "Ada had been taught mathematics from a very young age by her mother " Lovelace's mother, Anne Isabella Noel Byron, was called "Princess of Parallelograms" by her husband, poet Lord Byron.

So Happy Birthday Mom. I can only hope that I can inspire my daughter as well as you have inspired me!

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