Today is Ada Lovelace Day - here’s everything you need to know about it

Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 9:14 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 10:14 am

Today (13 Oct) marks Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths held annually.

But who was Ada Lovelace, why is she celebrated, and how can you get involved in the events being held to mark the occasion?

Here is everything you need to know.

Who was Ada Lovelace?

Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, who was known for her role in early computer science, working alongside the scientist Charles Babbage on his proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine.

It is thought Lovelace was the first person to recognise that such a computer could have applications beyond calculation, and is believed to have published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine.

In the eyes of many academics, Lovelace is one of the first computer programmers in history, and is often regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of computers, all the way back in the 1800s.

What is Ada Lovelace day?

An international celebration of the achievements of women, Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) was founded in 2009 by Suw Charman-Anderson, and aims to increase the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

In doing so, it hopes to create new role models to encourage more girls into STEM careers, and to support women already working in those fields.

In 2020, the day is celebrating women, advocates and educators, profiling women working in STEM around the world and those women who work for gender equality in industry, academia and the community.

When is Ada Lovelace day?

Ada Lovelace Day is held every year on the second Tuesday of October. That means that, in 2020, it's being celebrated on Tuesday 13 October.

The Finding Ada Network says the reason for that particular day is “rather mundane”, and was chosen to be “maximally convenient for the most number of people.”

"We have tried to avoid major public holidays, school holidays, exam season, and times of the year when people might be hibernating,” the organisers explained.

But why not use Lovelace’s birthday of 10 December?

“December is swamped by Christmas parties, making venue hire tricky and putting us in competition with traditionally unmissable employee booze-ups,” the Finding Ada Network revealed.

How is it celebrated?

Usually, the day is marked by its signature Ada Lovelace Day Live! ‘science cabaret’ event, hosted in London.

Taking place in an informal, theatre-like setting, it sees women in STEM giving short talks about their work or research.

Due to current coronavirus restrictions, mass gatherings are unable to be held, so in 2020, Ada Lovelace Day is “going back to its roots”, according to the Finding Ada Network.

That means a day of “blogging, Twittering and Facebooking, just like we did in 2009.”

There will also be a selection of webinars, as well as other online events from conferences to Wikipedia ‘edit-a-thons’ to pub quizzes.

And, a month after Ada Lovelace Day on 10 November, the Finding Ada Network will be hosting a Virtual STEM Conference, a “29 hour extravaganza of talks, workshops, Q&As and more.”

For more information on events, head to findingada.com

How can I take part?

This year, the organisers want you to join in by highlighting “hidden advocates.”

That could be the teachers, lecturers and professors, the researchers and technicians, the women you work with, who go above and beyond to encourage and support girls and women in STEM.

"Who are the unsung heroines whose work is changing the future face of STEM?” They ask.

You can take part by writing a blog post, recording a podcast, or joining in on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media platform.

For more ways to get involved, head to findingada.com

A version of this article originally appeared on our sister title, the Scotsman