Turns out I defended on Ada Lovelace Day! How great is that?
Ada was born in 1815, and, thanks to her mother, received tutoring in mathematics. She developed a friendship with Charles Babbage, who enlisted her to translate Louis Menebrea's memoir about an 'analytical engine.'
Ada called herself "an Analyst (& Metaphysician)," and the combination was put to use in the Notes. She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at articulating its promise. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer. It was suited for "developping [sic] and tabulating any function whatever. . . the engine [is] the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity." Her Notes anticipate future developments, including computer-generated music.
Feministing has an excellent list of additional geek-girl heroines.
In the same spirit, I offer this Women's History Month Quiz (if you're so inclined, creator Deborah Siegel suggests copying the quiz to your own blog and adding a question of your own):
1. In 2009, women make up what percent of the U.S. Congress?
2. How many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are female?
3. Who was the first First Lady to create her own media presence (ie hold regular press conferences, write a daily newspaper column and a monthly magazine column, and host a weekly radio show)?
A. Eleanor Roosevelt
B. Jacqueline Kennedy
C. Pat Nixon
D. Hillary Clinton
4. The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced to Congress in:
5. Who was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature?
A. Phyllis Wheatley
B. Alice Walker
C. Toni Morrison
D. Maya Angelou
6. What percentage of union members are women today?
7. What year did the Griswold v. Connecticut decision guarantee married women the right to birth control?
8. Which state has NOT ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)?A. Egypt
C. United States
ANSWERS: 1:B, 2:A, 3:A, 4:A, 5:C, 6:D, 7:B, 8:C