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Ada Lovelace Day, March 24

By Edited Aug 19, 2016 4 5

Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the achievements of women from all eras and nationalities in the fields of science and technology. Celebrated each year on March 24th, Ada Lovelace Day is a day we should remember each year to motivate more young girls and women to study science and technology in school, and to decrease the gender gap in science.

Why honour women in sciences and technology? Among other reasons, women scientists are not as well-remembered as male scientists, even though women have made many of the historic scientific discoveries. If you're having trouble thinking beyond Marie Curie, the discoverer of radium and polonium, take a look at just some of the women who have made important scientific discoveries:

  • Si-Ling Chi (2640 BCE), discovered the process for making silk thread.
  • Aganice (1878 BCE), computed the positions of the planets.
  • Theano (546 BCE), discovered theorem of the Golden Mean and Golden Rectangle.
  • Aglaonike (200 BCE), deduced the cycle of eclipses.
  • Mary Hebraea (first century), discovered the chemical formula for hydrochloric acid. Invented the bain-marie; possibly invented the first still; discovered Mary's Black, a metal alloy.
  • Shi Dun (105), developed the process for making paper.
  • Hypatia of Alexandria (370 - 415), inventor of the plane astrolabe, brass hydrometer, and hydroscope.
  • Hildegard of Bingen (1098 - 1179), was the first woman scientist whose writings are known. She discovered the need to boil water for sanitation.

Hildegard von Bingen

Hildegard of Bingen
Credit: Public Domain
  • Alessandra Giliani (1307 - 1326), first person to use injections of coloured fluid to trace the path of blood vessel in the body, and considered to be the first person to practice pathology.

Alessandra Giliani

Alessandra Giliani
Credit: Public Domain
  • Maria Margarthe Kirch (1670 - 1720), discovered a comet.
  • Nor Mahal (seventeeth century), inventor of processes for weaving cashmere and distilling attar of roses.
  • Clelia Borromeo (1684 - 1777), solved the clelie curve in mathematics (if the longitude and co-latitude of a point P on a sphere is denoted by q and f and if P moves so that q = m f, where m is a constant, then the locus of P is a clelie).
  • Emilie Marquise du Chatelet de Breuteuil (1706 - 1749), opposed Newton's theories of momentum, and was ultimately proven correct.
  • Laura Bassi (1711 - 1778), co-founder of an experimental physics laboratory, one original paper on chemistry, thirteen original papers on physics, eleven original papers on hydraulics, two original papers on mathematics, one original paper on mechanics, and one original paper on technology.

Laura Bassi

Laura Bassi
Credit: Public Domain
  • Anna Morandi Manzolini (1716 - 1774), made a number of discoveries about anatomy based on dissections.
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Anna Morandi Manzolini

Anna Manzolini
Credit: Public Domain
  • Maria Gaetana Agnesi (1718 - 1799), discoverer of the solution to the "Witch of Agnesi," a famous mathematical problem.

Maria Gaetana Agnesi

Maria Gaetana Agnesi
Credit: Public Domain
  • Sybilla Masters (around 1720), inventor of a new method of curing Indian corn.
  • Caroline Herschel (1750 - 1848), discoverer of eight comets and fourteen nebulae.

Caroline Herschel

Caroline Herschel
Credit: Public Domain

Caroline Herschel in 1829

  • Eliza Luca Pinckney (eighteenth century), discovered techniques for the cultivation of indigo.
  • Sophie Germain (1776 - 1831), discoverer of a branch of mathematics, elasticity, related to building construction.
  • Mary Somerville (1780 - 1872), solved numerous mathematical problems, influenced the discovery of Neptune.
  • Mme. du Pierry (around 1786), computed tables for the lengths of day and night, and tables of refraction for the latitude of Paris.
  • Jeanne Villepreux-Power (1796 - 1871), inventor of the aquarium, and the first naturalist to use aquariums for experimentation.
  • Mary Anning (1799 - 1847), discovered first complete icthyosaur skeleton, first British pterodactyl skeleton, and first Squaloraja fish.
  • Alice Fletcher (1838 - 1923), ethnologist of Native Americans, first researcher ever to describe a Plains Native American ceremony in its entirety.
  • Maria Mitchell (1818 - 1889), discoverer of a comet, and the first person to photograph the surface of the sun.
  • Florence Nightingale (1820 - 1910), first to use statisical analyses in illness and mortality, inventor of the pie chart.
  • Ellen Swallow Richards (1842 - 1911), founder of home economics, and considered the founder of ecology.
  • Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850 - 1891), discoverer of properties of Saturn's rings; codiscoverer of the Cauch-Kovalevskaya Theorem in mathematics.
  • Heather Ayrton (1854 - 1923), discovered how sand ripples behave, invented an instrument for dividing a line into any equal number of parts.
  • Williamina Fleming (1857 - 1911), first to prove that the star RR Lyrae was variable.
  • Elizabeth Britton (1858 - 1954), researcher into mosses, author of 346 scientific papers.
  • Fanny Bullock Workman (1859 - 1925), made numerous scientific observations about the Himalayas.
  • Nettie Stevens (1861 - 1912), discovered the genetic determination of gender.
  • Dorothea Klumpke (1861 - 1942), supervisor of a French astronomical catalogue.
  • Mary Calkins (1863 - 1930), creator of the psychology of the self.
  • Annie Cannon (1863 - 1941), classified over a quarter of a million stars.
  • Helen Beatrix Potter (1866 - 1943) (yes, that Beatrix Potter), made several important discoveries on fungus and lichens.
  • Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 - 1921), discoverer of the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variable stars.
  • Alice Hamilton (1869 - 1970), discovered air pollution.
  • Ellen Eglui (late nineteenth century), inventor of the clothes wringer.
  • Mary Kies (nineteenth century), first African-American woman to receive a patent in her own name, for inventing a method of weaving straw with silk.
  • Mrs. A. H. Manning (nineteenth century), inventor of a mower and a reaper.
  • Sarah Mather (nineteenth century), inventor of the submarine telescope and lamp.
  • Caterina Scarpellini (nineteenth century), discovered a comet.
  • Florence Sabin (1871 - 1953), discovered many properties of the lymphatic system, and was the first researcher at the Rockefeller Institute.
  • Lise Meitner (1878 - 1968), discovered nuclear fission.
  • Emmy Noether (1882 - 1935), founder of abstract algebra.
  • Ruth Benedict (1887 - 1948), cultural anthropologist.
  • Inge Lehman (1888-1993) discovered the Earth's solid inner core and molten outer core.
  • Ida Eva Tacke (1896 - 1979), first to mention fission, discovered the element Rhentium.
  • Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900 - 1979), correctly posited that silicon, carbon, and other common metals seen in the sun were found in about the same relative amounts as on earth but the helium and particularly hydrogen were vastly more abundant.
  • Maria Telkes (1900 - 1995), pioneered the use of solar energy.
  • Barbara McClintock, (1902 - 1992), discovered genes could move around, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983.
  • Grace Hopper (1906 - 1992), inventor of the subroutine, wrote the first A-O compiler.
  • Maria Goeppert Mayer (1906 - 1972), won Nobel Prize for work on the nucleus of atoms.
  • Virginia Apgar (1909 - 1974), developed a scale for scoring newborn health, thus dramatically increasing infant survival rates.
  • Mary Crowfoot Hodgkin (1910 - 1994), won the Nobel Prize for determining through X-rays the structure of biologically important molecules.
  • Chien Shiung Wu (1912 - 1997), disproved the law of conservation of parity.
  • Maud Menten (around 1913), developed models for describing the actions of enzymes.
  • Margaret Burbridge (1919 - ), co-discoverer that all but the lightest elements are produced inside stars.
    Rosalind Franklin (1920 - 1958), discoverer of the helical structure of DNA.
  • Rosalind Sussman Yallow (1921 - ), won the 1977 Nobel Prize for the development of radioimmunoassays of peptide hormones.
  • Patsy Sherman (1930 - 2000), developed Scotchgard and many other products for the 3M company.
  • Dian Fossey (1932 - 1985), researcher of gorillas in their native habitat and culture.
  • Jane Goodall (1934 - ), researcher on chimpanzee social organization, tool-making, and much more.
  • Mary Olliden Weaver (twentieth century), inventor of sodium polyacrylate, able to absorb up to 800 times its mass in water.

And Ada Lovelace, in case you didn't know, is largely considered as the world's first computer programmer, expanding greatly on the work of Charles Babbage.

To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day (which is close to International Women's Day), what better way than to give your sister, wife, or daughter something scientific that will spark their interest in science, and support them in their research? You never know what they might discover!



Nov 28, 2011 8:32am
What an interesting article! I had never heard of Ada nor a lot of the contributions these ladies made. Very nice article.
Mar 24, 2015 9:45pm
What a lineup.

It's a shame, really, that women are barely cited for these huge accomplishments and discoveries. And these are not minor achievements.

I mean, holy cow, Maria Telkes pioneered the use of solar energy, Maria Goeppert Mayer won Nobel Prize for work on the nucleus of atoms, Rosalind Franklin discovered the helical structure of DNA, and I had no idea that Helen Beatrix Potter made several important discoveries about fungus and lichens.

Thank you for drawing my attention to this wonderful day (I'm pretending I'm on Pacific Time right now).

Take good care,

Mar 25, 2015 6:45am
My favorite is Hedy Lamarr, without whom we would not have wi-fi!
Mar 25, 2015 6:50am
I like that one, too. But this list, I love! Thanks for putting in the effort. Thumb
Mar 25, 2015 6:47am
I'll toast to that!
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