June 30, 2014
Programming bootcamp in Canada encourages girls to “Be Like Ada”
by Claire Kelley
A one-day coding instruction bootcamp will be held this summer in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada on July 19th. Organizers are calling the event “Be Like Ada,” to encourage girls to see Ada Lovelace—the woman considered to be world’s first computer programmer—to be a role model. She is listed as one of the “superheroes” on the event’s website.
Co-founder Sandra Wear told the Vancouver Sun that the low number of women in the tech sector is a problem for society and for companies.
“Girls are being told at 13 they are not good at science and math,” she said. “We’re hurting ourselves. Not only is this unrealized potential but how are we going to fill jobs?”
The bootcamp is open to teen girls and promises “8 hours of fun,” with opportunities to meet women with engineering and tech jobs and instruction in the fundamentals of programming. The organizers’ long-term goal of this type of event is to achieve an equal number of female undergrads in engineering at the University of British Columbia and double the number of engineers who are women in Canada.
In a new book to be published this October by Melville House, James Essinger argues that Ada Lovelace “should without doubt be included in the pantheon of the greats of the history of computing.” He describes her as someone with an understanding of what computers would become.
Ada understood that a whole new area of discovery awaited once the real world and abstract mathematics were linked through calculations that no human could ever hope to undertake. She had a vivid, thrilling and disturbingly prescient vision that such a computer, for example, might handle “pieces of music of any degree of complexity of extent”: a familiar and even everyday truth over a century and a half later, but inconceivable to scientists at the time.
Her notes on Cambridge University mathematics professor Charles Babbage‘s lecture about his invention, the Analytical Engine, included what is considered to be the first algorithm. Lovelace showed that she understood how his invention worked and that the numbers could represent any sort of data and could be used to compose music, process scientific information and produce graphics.
Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.