Articles taggés avec ‘Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day

Mardi 24 mars 2009

In her post on Presse-Citron Stephanie Booth appeals to bloggers to write about great women of science and technology, in honor of Lady Ada Lovelace, known as the first computer programmer. Ada was the daughter of Lord Byron, the Romantic poet. Her mother Anne Isabelle was a mathematician herself who, after separating from her husband right after her daughter’s birth, thought mathematics would be a solid antidote to the poet’s genetic « madness » and made sure the girl was taught science. Ada is famous for having envisioned a computer and written a program. Of course, there are also sources claiming that she did no such thing, that her role was merely secondary, that she was an unfaithful wife, an alcoholic and a « hysterical » woman. I am sure many great men of science were bad-tempered promiscuous alcoholics, but did it ever make anyone doubt THEIR scientific abilities?
You can read more about Lady Ada here, but I would like to write about a Russian 19th century woman mathematician, Sofia Kovalevskaya – or Sophie Kowalevski, as she spent most of her adult life outside Russia. She left Russia when she was only 16 to study in Germany because, you see, Russian universities of that time did not allow women. She could only do so if her husband gave his official permission, so Sofia married Vladimir Kovalevsky: you had to have a husband, of course, to have his permission. She became the first woman to earn a doctorate in science and the first woman in history offered a full professorship in a university in Stockholm when she was 33. She won scientific prizes and made a celebrated discovery known as « Kovalevsky top ».
Unfortunately both brilliant young women died young: Ada at 36 from cancer and Sofia at 41 from pneumonia.