Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ada Lovelace Day - a day to blog about women in technology

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. I am very happy to contribute because I think women are underrepresented. And why is it called Ada Lovelace Day? Augusta Ada King was Countess of Lovelace and wrote the world’s first computer programmes in the 1800's.

This is for all the women who stand up for other women and don't expect anything in return.

Dr. Monique Frize is a very prominent woman from Ottawa/Carleton University who received many awards and recognition for all that she has done for Engineering, Science, and women. But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to tell you about how she helped deserving women receive scholarships.

Dr. Frize used to be part of a committee of judges for very valued scholarships. She spoke to a group of women about this at the "McMaster WISE International Celebration of Women conference" this month, that's how I know. Dr. Frize told us that the committee was all male and that she was the only woman. She said that every time she would choose the candidates she thought were the most worthy, she always had more females on the list than the rest of the committee. Were the men old fashioned? Were they just not used to accepting that women had equal potential as men? Dr.Frize believes all these factors played a role.

For example, Dr. Frize asked one of the men of the committee why he chose this candidate (male), over this candidate (female) who clearly had a better application. He told her that the candidate was doing very interesting work, and also the same research he used to do. This was clearly biased. Dr.Frize fought for that female applicant and won.

So if you're a woman who received a scholarship, remember that someone may have fought for you, and that someone may have been a woman. When you get the chance, I encourage every woman to do the same.