ALD News: Prof Anusha Shah becomes ICE President, automotive pioneer Bertha Benz podcast
Plus articles about Ada Lovelace, our Bookshop.org list of books about women in STEM, and lots to read over the festive period.
Here at ALD HQ, I’m watching the back garden robin getting a bit spicy with the great tits as he defends ‘his’ feeder, and thinking about what lies ahead for 2024.
Over the next month or so, I’ll be making plans for Ada Lovelace Day on Tuesday 8 October – get that date in your diary now! – and beginning the annual search for sponsors. I’ll be completely revamping our sponsorship prospectus and developing new sponsor packages, so if you’re interested in supporting Ada Lovelace Day 2024, please get in touch!
Meanwhile, if you’re on the lookout for books to buy as Christmas presents, why not check out our Bookshop.org list? If you buy a book, we’ll get a tiny commission, so doing your Christmas shopping on Bookshop.org also helps to support Ada Lovelace Day! Don’t forget, we also have a Red Bubble shop, with stationary, t-shirts and posters.
Helen Arney on automotive pioneer, Bertha Benz
In the latest Podcast of Unnecessary Detail, long-time Ada Lovelace Day Live compère Helen Arney talks about the surprising pioneer of the automotive industry, Bertha Benz, business partner and wife of Carl Benz (their name is immortalised in Mercedes-Benz).
Not only does Helen give us a tour of Bertha’s achievements, including the first ever road test of a car during which she invented brake pads and first gear, she also shares the fabulous song, Bertha Benz Takes A Ride. Written by Helen and Jenni Pinnock and sung by Helena Raeburn, it’s a rollocking and often hilarious account of Bertha’s impromptu (and illegal) road trip.
Congratulations to Anusha Shah, new ICE President
Professor Anusha Shah has become the 159th president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Shah has held numerous positions within ICE, including as ICE Senior Vice President, the first female chair of ICE London, and a member of the ICE Fairness, Inclusion and Respect Committee.
Shah has 22 years experience in water and environmental projects and is currently a senior director at Arcadis, working on climate adaptation and resilience, as well as a seconded senior director for High Speed 2. She is a visiting professor at King’s College London and University of Edinburgh, and a non-executive director for the Met Office. Shah has won a number of awards, including a UK Women Engineers Sustainability Award and Inspiring Engineers Award.
Our congratulations to Prof Shah on this important appointment!
On Ada Lovelace and her father, Lord Byron
Where George Gordon, Lord Byron, was a vocal defender of the Luddites and their protest against the mechanisation that would eliminate their jobs, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace and Byron’s daughter, took a very different view, awestruck by the Jacquard Loom and other technologies. In his essay, Parted for a Lifetime,compares the lives and attitudes of father and daughter, one a key figure of the Romantic Movement, the other cleaving more to the ideals of the Enlightenment. It’s a fascinating read, well worth a look!
Ada Lovelace: The Countess Who Dreamed in Numbers
Back in 2019, Shanee Edwards published a book about Ada Lovelace called Ada Lovelace: The Countess Who Dreamed in Numbers. She also wrote an article about Lovelace for Playa Vista and talked about her experiences writing the novel and visiting Oxford University in person to read Lovelace’s letters.
Edwards covers Lovelace’s parentage and how that impacted her education, her important friendship with Charles Babbage, and what she contributed to the understanding of Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
Featured posts on Substack
If you find yourself at a loose end over the holiday period, why not spend a little time with some amazing women in STEM? Take a look at the profiles, book and video posts that went out via our weekly email over the last month, or read our archives.
Dr Valeria de Paiva, Mathematician and computer scientist: Valeria Correa Vaz de Paiva is a Brazilian mathematician, logician, computer scientist and computational linguist.
Prof Isabella Aiona Abbott, Phycologist and ethnobotanist: Isabella Aiona Abbott was the first Native Hawaiian woman to receive a PhD in science and a leading expert on Pacific marine algae.
How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures, Sabrina Imbler: A fascinating tour of creatures from the surface to the deepest ocean floor, inviting us to envision wilder, grander, and more abundant possibilities for the way we live.
Maths is for everyone!: Every student should leave school competent and confident in everyday maths, said Susan Okereke at Ada Lovelace Day Live Online in 2022.
If you’d like to receive more like this direct to your inbox, make sure you’re signed up for our sub-newsletters by checking your notification settings on Substack and turning them all on.
Around the web
Here is our round up of links and reading that we’ve found this month!
Ada Lovelace featured: Ada has inspired the name of a new society at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, the Ada Lovelace Society for female and non-binary undergraduate students. Ada is also part of a quilt made specially for Mathemalchemy, an artistic installation of mathematical elements. You can read more about the Cryptographic quilt here. Last month, we told you about the new play Ada by the National Youth Theatre, and there is a lovely review and images of the production in Broadway World.
Women of colour: 30 women scientists across Africa won the L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Sub Saharan Africa Awards - read the full list of names here via CNBC Africa. Students at San Francisco State University worked on writing biographies of Black and Hispanic scientists for Wikipedia. You can find out more about the work at a special event “Closing the gap for Black and Hispanic STEM professionals on Wikipedia” on 13 December. Chair of the American Chemical Society, Reni Jackson, writes for Chemical & Engineering News about how partnerships with local schools could help encourage those from underrepresented groups into STEM.
News: For National Engineering Day, TfL created a special tube map that contains London pioneers, as well as innovators and scientists of today and tomorrow at each tube stop. There are a number of women in STEM featured including physicist Shirley Ann Jackson (Chesham), engineer and mathematician Hertha Ayrton (Bond Street) and our very own Ada Lovelace (Warren Street). The Signal features Jo Napier who has painted pictures of women in STEM to highlight their achievements as part of the Great Women Portrait Project. Nature reports on research that suggests female scientists from low and middle income countries who travel to countries with high female equity can not only benefit their own networking and collaboration, but also colleagues from their home institutions. Quanta profiles Professor Elin Calipari on her work in addiction, supporting women scientists, and how her love of sport helped her build resilience in science. Finally, more needs to be done to encourage girls’ interest in STEM, as new research reveals that the gender gap persists amongst Gen Z girls in science, via CNN.
Finally, as 2023 draws to a close, I’d like to thank all those who helped to save Ada Lovelace Day and gave me the chance to put on one of the best live events that I think we’ve ever done.
Ada Lovelace Day Live 2023 was spectacular – you can watch it all in full via Vimeo – and I’m very grateful to our speakers for their time and expertise. Thanks to urologist Prof Jennifer Rohn, Earth scientist Dr Anjana Khatwa, mathematician Dr Sophie Carr, geneticist Dr Aarathi Prasad, software engineer Dr Azza Eltraify, biomedical engineer Dr Antonia Pontiki, science presenter Rosie Curran Crawley, and compère Helen Arney.
I also want to thank the Royal Institution, and our media partner, Stylist, as well as our sponsors, Redgate, Arden University, Ada Infrastructure, The Information Lab's Data School and dxw. Without these companies and organisations’ support, Ada Lovelace Day simply wouldn’t have happened. And thanks to everyone who made the day work, especially Stephanie Davey and Lorna Richardson and everyone on our Advisory Council.
That’s it for this year! Please note that our next newsletter will land in your inboxes a week later than usual, on 16 January, due to the way that the holidays fall.
We hope that you have a restful and enjoyable festive season and look forward to bringing you more Ada Lovelace Day news throughout 2024.
All the best,
Suw & the ALD team
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