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Ada Lovelace: the first computer programmer

Adam Walton hears how pioneering programmer Ada Lovelace is inspiring women to work in IT, plus he shines a light on some inspiring women working in computing and technology.

28 minutes

Inspiring women in IT

On the eve of International Women's Day, Science Café is shining a light on some inspiring women who are working in -or have worked in - computers and IT. There's a good angle here in Wales. Next month, the UK’s leading computing conference dedicated to female IT students  celebrates its 10th anniversary at Aberystwyth University.

The BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium is the brainchild of Dr Hannah Dee, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Computer Science at Aberystwyth University. She felt the need for a female-led conference for IT undergraduates, having found herself the only woman addressing 80 men at a previous conference. 

The colloquium is named after the mathematician Ada, Countess of Lovelace, who is largely acknowledged as the world’s first computer programmer. And yet her name is relatively unknown to most people these days. Aberystwyth lecturer Amanda Clare tells her remarkable story and explains that Ada was so far ahead of her time, we were only catching up more than a century later.   

This year’s conference keynote address will be given by Dr Sue Black OBE, founder of BCSWomen and founder and CEO of TechMums, a social enterprise that provides technical training for mothers in deprived areas. An inspiration in her own right, she talks about the campaign she launched to restore Bletchley Park, the wartime secret code breaking centre. Thousands or women worked there, saving lives through their maths and technology skills, each one a hidden hero.  

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Adam Walton

Adam Walton

Adam's "other job" - tune in every Saturday at 10 PM for the best new music from Wales.