Why modern Ada’s are needed, originally uploaded by kcorrick.

This poigniont image was taken at the Women in Tech session at the 2009 OpenTech held on 4 July.

It summarises one of the problems that Suw Charman-Anderson, Sue Black, Janet Parkinson, Zoe Margolis and myself were trying to highlight when it comes to encouraging women into the technology industry – the of a lack of role models, and how important it is that we hold up the work that women are doing in the fields of science and technology, be it as academics, developers, games designers, communicators and the wealth of other careers in this sector.

The session that was a follow-up to this year’s Ada Lovelace day. The brainchild of Suw Charman-Anderson.

One of the things that Suw discovered when analysing the women who had been written about on Ada Lovelace day in March was that the majority of them had already passed away. So for my part of the session, I ran a brainstorm to try and find some more modern (and alive) women who are working in science and technology. Participants were asked to come up with names of women who they admired in teams and write them down on post-its, which were placed on the wall. Everyone was then given a strip of gold stars to use as "faves".

Photos of the results can be seen here or read below – apologies in advance if I have spelt anyone’s name incorrectly. A corrected and more detailed version of this list with further thoughts, will go up onto the Finding Ada website soon.

Some modern Ada’s
Tina 303 – hacker
Terry Gaasterland (think that’s right), Bioinformatics
Sarah Blow, Girl Geek Dinners
Lady Ada, hacker
Lene Hau, DK phyisicist
Jane McGonagal, games
Pamela Jones, Grok Law
Aleks Krotoski, games, writing, academic
Leisa Reichelt, user experience
Clarise de Souza, semiotic engineering
Stephenie Wehner, quantum computing
Donna Metzlar, informal education
Meg Pickard, social media
Natalie Jerijermento, techno artist/designer
Back In Shinning Jeans (more details required)
Natasha Bowen, IT manager
Improbulous, blog, consuming experience
Natalie Portman
Stefani Banerian, sys admin for Indy Media
Rosa Freund
Jenifer Tidwell, HCI design patterns
Kathy Sierra
Ann Thorpe, OU, design, activism, research
Caterina Fake, Flickr, Hunch,
Michelle Obama
Robin Hunicke, tech, games designer
Josie Fraser, education, tech
Maggie Philbin, science communicator
Emily Bell, Guardian
Moira Gunn, Tech Nation radio show, PhD in computer science
Marion Hamm, networks and virtual space
Dorte Haftendonn
Kara Swisher,
Clare Reddington (@clarered), director of the Pervasiv Media Studio and ished.co.uk
Reena Pau, PhD, Southhampton university
Denise Wilton
Allison Randal, Perl
Anna Maria Cox, Wonkette
Sarah Winmill, CTO at the V&A
Ursula Martin, academic
Nivian Wang, Google
Laura Cohen, IBM, Sugar Project
Melia Mowze, game writer
Dr Sarah Butch, bioinformatics
Rhonda Wilson, head of research, Meridian Audio, Huntingdon
Jemima Kiss, Guardian technology correspondent
Prof Janet Thornton
Julia Wojcicka, design and UI
Mother of a friend of mine who worked at Max Planck Institute
Susane Komhard, Frauuhafer Institute
Danah Boyd, social media
Ayesha Garrett, londonlime.net, graphic designer
Dr. Rachel Armstrong, scientist, TED fellow
Maggie Berry, one of the founders of women in technology UK
Alice Taylor, Wonderland, C4 Education
Joanna, Google, social responsibility
Xeni Jardin, Boing Boing
Becky Hogge, activism, journalist
Violet Berlin, games, journalist
Irena Slutski, interviewer, reportage
Kaye Elling, games
Climate Rush, women’s campaign against climate change
Dame Ellen MacArthur, solo ocean racer, environmental activist
Prof Kristina Hook, Human Computer Interactions, Stokholm
Anja Anderson, astrophysics
Jo Walsh, perl hacker, GIS wizard
Mrs Price, physics teacher (and many more female sciences teachers)
Beth Auden, solar physicist, university of Nashville
Connie, AOL

Who has inspired you, who do you think should be recognised? Add their name(s) below in the comments.

UPDATE 10/07/2009: Here is a video of the session.


  1. great to see so many ladies following in Ada’s footsteps, lotsa role models for us there!
    I would like to add another, we have a lass in our village who updates all the old computers, adds ram, operating systems and virus protection. She is called Debbie and is brilliant. She has made sure everyone who wants internet access has it. She won a CSV medal for voluntary work in 2005. There are many female unsung heroes out there apart from the ones in the etherlight.

    I do think it is great to have a blog about the ones who are recognised though, it gives hope to all the young girls out there to know that there is a career in ICT if they want to pursue it. Well done for doing it!

  2. This blog has really got me thinking, another for your wall of inspirational Adas is Lindsey Annison, who has been campaigning for broadband access for 10 years. She seems to know far more about the physics of the job than most men, and certainly more than the politicians. She has helped start many community networks which provide access to people in areas of ADSL market failure. She is certainly worth a mention on your list. She originated the quotes ‘Cmon Baby Light my Fibre’, JFDI, CanDo etc.
    this is her blog: http://5tth.blogspot.com/

  3. I find that I still have to explain to people who even Ada Lovelace was. I have to admit that I have tended to downplay the techie side of my work when I introduce myself to people, and yet I have been one of the people at the forefront of using computers in my sector (culture/heritage) and have been actively promoting use of technology to my (mostly male, mostly non-techie) colleagues for over 20 years.
    I think that I was the only one on my first degree course to write their dissertation on a computer (a computer that saved onto magnetic tape cassette!). Coincidentally, that was around the time (or a few months before) when Jonathan Ive was starting his first degree in the same faculty (I didn’t know him).
    I do try to support other women in IT. I am fed up, however, with women who don’t believe what I say until a man has confirmed that I’m right (and even then, they ascribe the knowledge to the men). We have such a long way to go.

  4. Heck Janet, I find the same too! I often have to get something with danglybits to re-inforce what I say, that is why I use ‘chris’ instead of ‘christine’ – then my online presence isn’t always pre-judged to be another female stepping into the male world. Quite often I get really good replies by email to stuff, until they realise I am female that is. Like you I have been using computers and helping others for over 20 years, I started in the DOS days and have forgotten more than people need to know nowadays. Times move on, and women are really good at moving with them. That is another of our strengths. Also, We adapt. We share. We don’t hug info. We encourage and inspire. We combine it all into a commonsense approach and hold the GIGO principle. There is no stopping us now, the internet is a great equaliser. Have faith ladies. Ada would be in her element.

  5. I was searching about this issue everywhere,I was really curious about this…Really big thanks.I will always looking for your new articles.Farewell, Richard

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