Barbara Liskov Rules!

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, wherein we are encouraged to weblog about the work done by women in the sciences! If you don’t know much about Ada Lovelace, this video, albeit for kids, about Ada’s life and accomplishments is a decent short biography. Or, you know, try Wikipedia ;)
Why do people still care? Because the Bayer Facts of Science Education survey out this month of women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences (particularly chemistry fields) says that 66% felt that stereotypes that women and/or minorities do not do math and science contribute to their underrepresentation. School science classes was overwhelmingly the most important factor in pursuing science, and it is logical to conclude that this should be a vector for countering stereotypes about who does math and science as well. Yet the survey also showed that about a third of the participants reported women and minorities being encouraged less than boys and/or non-minorities in their science classes. 40% reported being discouraged from pursuing math or science at some point, with 60% of that discouragement coming while they were in college and 44% of the time the source of the discouragement being a college professor.
Not shockingly, we need mentors and role models. We need to battle the sense of isolation that women and minorities in math and science feel. We need to battle the stereotypes. For me, a source of optimism is that Bayer was able to find 17,527 female and minority members of the American Chemical Society to survey. And over 1800 people have pledged to weblog about women in science today, with enough people interested in the project to have taken down their website for a few hours this morning. The demographics are changing and the mentors and role models are out there. Probably the best way to celebrate today is to promise yourself to talk enthusastically to a young girl or woman about math or science the next chance you get.

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