Today/tomorrow (March 24, 2010) is Ada Lovelace Day
, a day for women in technology and science. Considering what Dreamwidth is to me, I figured this was a fitting platform.
To wit, my interest in Dreamwidth is not fannish, at least, not in the colloquial usage. If my interest is fannish, it is because I am a huge proponent of the open software movement. To me, Dreamwidth represents a direction in open source projects that I hadn't realized, which really points to blindness on my part. In any case, my interest is that of a technologist. But my interest is not the universal interest in the project, and should not be taken as such. I've been around various fandoms long enough to know that, yes, a good percentage of the population is female or identifies as such. It stands to reason then, that a reasonable percentage of the people behind Dreamwidth are also female or identify as such.
So that's why I'm posting this here.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day. It has been said, in many different times and places, in many different ways, that women are discouraged from going into science and technology. Historically, science and technology have been the worlds of men. I hate it, but it's true. We, as a society, now wonder, or at least pay lipservice to the idea, how to get more girls interested in science and math. They wonder why more women don't go into careers in math, science, and engineering. They wonder where the women are in those fields.
It's something of an open secret on where I go to college. I'll end that now: I'm a student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Yes, that
MIT. I've spent almost six years here (1.5 were time off, but I stayed around still), and let me tell you some of what I know to be true.
I know brilliant young women who craft working pinball machines for final projects in electrical engineering classes, who dedicate their free time to developing AIs that work as intelligent chat bots, who programmed Pac-Man entirely in hardware. Who work on robots that go in the deep sea or deep space. Who work on sequencing genomes. Who are working on the bleeding-edge of computer chip design, and whose work might be what people mean when they talk about "quantum computing". Who receive grants from the DoE to find alternative energy sources. Who not only understand quantum theory, but breathe
it. Who understand more about how your brain works than you do. Who design nuclear power plants. Who see beauty in a mathematical formula akin to that of a sunset.
When I was a freshman, the class of 2007 ring committee caused a bit of a stir. Every graduating undergraduate class at MIT has a class ring, known as the Brass Rat. There are a few standard things, but the design of the Rat is unique to each class. The Class of 2007 was the first year the number of admitted women equaled the number of admitted men. To honor this, the Ring Committee decided to slightly alter the MIT seal
They changed the blacksmith's gender to that of a woman.
Yes, this caused controversy, but mainly to the tune of whether the committee had the authority to change the official seal on the ring. (And that due to the design of the hammer and anvil, some people claimed it looked like a butter churn) Nevermind the fact that, due to the size of the ring, it was nearly impossible to tell the difference. The fact remains that the 2007 Brass Rat gives a nod to the presence of women in science and technology.
Today is Ada Lovelace Day.
I don't need to find Ada. I see her every day.