First this is the first year that Ada Byron Lovelace day is celebrated, and somehow I managed to miss it. It was celebrated March 24th, 2009
so I guess I'm a couple of days behind the times. For those who are unfamiliar with who Ada Byron Lovelace is. She was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron
and considered to be the first computer programmer in the world. The fact that she was a woman I consider a side benefit. So I guess this means March 24th is also
computer programmer honor day too.
In terms of those women of science and programming I greatly respect there are many. So I guess in appreciation of this belated day I should mention one
I know closest who is relatively unknown. That would be my mother, Dr. Joan Obe. She is a retired Chief Medical Examiner. For those who don't know what a medical examiner is, they
are those happy go lucky slightly eccentric doctors that as the old doctor jokes go "Do everything but do it too late and speak for those who are unable to speak for themselves." They do autopsies and investigate unnatural causes of death and death scenes such as homicides, suicides, accidents such as airplane crashes and other human acts of depravity and tragedy and try to piece together the exact moment of death, what caused it and what/who did it.
My mother is not a programmer but she is a scientist. I tend to think there is a lot of parallel between investigating causes of death and hunting down bugs in computer programs. To me there really isn't much of difference between the two disciplines except that one involves real sweat,blood, and death and the other involves virtual sweat, blood, and death.
I would say the curiosity that drove me to programming and engineering and my respect for great investigative
work stems from watching her work and her nurturing guidance. She did other things before becoming a medical examiner - she was a microbiologist, was a peace corps volunteer teaching science in remote villages of Nigeria to underpriviledged children, a surgeon in the field doing surgery under the most minimimalist of conditions and a supermom who managed to raise 3 successful children.
If she ever experienced obstacles being a woman in a male-dominated field, she never let it on and all the male investigators, policemen and lawyers I have watched her work with always seemed to show the utmost of respect for her. I would say the most important lesson I learned from her is that if you have confidence in your abilities, others will too.