THE BLOG
04/24/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Enchantress of Numbers

Though this is outside my usual obsessions, I agreed to blog for Ada Lovelace Day today, celebrating women in technology.

Ada Lovelace was probably the world's first programmer: although her program never ran because the machine it was designed for was never built, she wrote it for Charles Babbage's proposed "analytical engine" in the early 1840's. Lovelace was the daughter of poet Lord Byron and Babbage called her "The Enchantress of Numbers."

These days, we frequently hear about the dearth of women in science and technology. But what we don't see much about is the areas in which women are succeeding in science: in 2000, for example, 60% of undergraduate degrees in biology went to women and as of 2004, 49.5% of students in the first year of medical school were women. In chemistry, 41% of undergraduate degrees are now earned by women. And 67% of psychology PhD's go to women.

Sure, you can argue that psychology is a "soft" science that doesn't really count--but molecular biology, chemistry and today's high tech medicine? If a woman discovers a cure for cancer or Alzheimer's, is that not science?

So, here's to all the female scientists and technologists--in all fields--making their way in a formerly male-dominated world. Right now, we can use all of the intelligence we can get!