It’s Ada Lovelace Day!

It’s a special day today: Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging about women in technology. I wanted to write about Grace Hopper but then I thought there’s too much written about Granny COBOL out there already.

I’d rather write about women I know.

My mother, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry and has been working full-time as a researcher, together with cooking, cleaning, mending, standing for hours in lines in grocery stores, sewing and knitting for the family of four, for as long as I remember.

My mother-in-law, who worked all her life in a Soviet-style classified IT institution and still tries to teach my kids some assembler (over the phone, from Russia).

Maya Pavlovna Zimina, who headed the summer archaeological expedition, herding myself and about 10 other unruly digging teenagers throughout our most difficult ages, from 13 to about 19 when most of us were admitted to universities and at least half of us got married. Archaeology is not exactly technology, but still, she was a great role model.

My university mates. I was in the Computer Science faculty, and, strangely enough, about 90% of the people in my year were female. It is easily explained, though: university students used to be exempt from the mandatory Army draft, but a year before I entered the University the exemption was canceled, and boys flocked to the four institutes that still granted the exemption. The University was not among them, so we got only those boys who already served in the army and those who got exempted for health reasons. About 20% of all students, in total. The few that still got to serve were plucked from our ranks within the first year, and for the next 5 years we had to study in an environment resembling a nunnery.

Elena Sergeevna Ventzel, a math professor, doctor of technology, author of widely known textbooks on probability theory, scientific papers and popular science books. She also wrote great novels under the pen-name of I.Grekova (from “Igrek”, the Russian name of the letter “Y”), full of bitter truth and of praise for the glory of life and of the woman as a creative element.

My female IT colleagues in Russia. They got used to seeing job ads starting with “A programmer wanted, male, under 35 y.o.” They got used to talking to receptionists from recruitment agencies, “Er, you know, I hold a degree with honours in computer science, and I just returned from abroad where I worked for a major IT company”, and to hearing the abrupt response, “Our client asked for a man!”, followed by hanging up. I could not deal with it. It was easier for me to immigrate to Canada and build my life and career from scratch here.

My second cousin, a P.Eng., a professor in Durham College and a mother of three.

The wife of my other second cousin, a laboratory chemist and also a mother of three.

The effervescent Sacha Chua who taught me everything I know about networking, loving one’s work and being in love with life.

… I could probably go on, but there’s only 15 minutes left to midnight. That’s all folks! Or else Ada Lovelace’s day ends before I post, and my blog turns into a pumpkin.

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6 Responses to “It’s Ada Lovelace Day!”

  1. sacha chua :: enterprise 2.0 consultant, storyteller, geek » Ada Lovelace Day linkfest and wrapup Says:

    […] a shout-out goes to Tania Samsonova who included me in her list, along with lots of inspiring people including her mother-in-law (who keeps trying to teach […]

  2. What do you think of diversity? « Tania Samsonova’s Blog Says:

    […] attitude. It was not condescending and sweet meaningless compliments that helped me or any of these women to get where they are today. As Lois M. Bujold puts it very aptly in one of her […]

  3. Ada Lovelace Day 2010 « Tania Samsonova’s Blog Says:

    […] my post from the previous year: It’s Ada Lovelace day! Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Blog on March 24th for Ada Lovelace DayHappy Ada […]

  4. Olga Says:

    Great memories!!! Especially about archaeological expedition with M.P. Zimina. These enthusiastic teenegers were: Michail Puzirjov, Alexandra Brovko, Dmitry Svatkovsky and many others. Where are they?

  5. oryxandcrake Says:

    Are you Olya U.? Sasha Brovko lives in Moscow, I don’t know about the others though.

  6. Olga Says:

    Hi Tania Borovikova,
    I am Olya U. It is interesting you remember my last name. How are you doing?


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