For every young woman who wants to pursue a career in science, math, engineering, or technology (STEM), look no further than Ada Lovelace. Born in 1815 at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, she gravitated toward the fascinating world of science and mathematics, eventually becoming the world’s first computer programmer.

Her lengthy studies connected her with Charles Babbage, a professor of mathematics who’d spent years designing the world’s first computers – clockwork calculating machines. But it wasn’t until Ada arrived that his work ascended into the history books.

Babbage called Ada the “Enchantress of Numbers” and claimed she grasped the sciences “with a force few masculine intellects” could have matched. She took her passion for mathematics and helped bring Babbage’s Analytical Engine to life.

She did so by translating an article from an Italian mathematician, one that described the engine’s core functions. Ada didn’t just translate the article, though; she expanded it, writing a piece three times the length and adding her own “computer programs” to the equation. Her programs detailed the potential uses of the machine, including the manipulation of symbols and the creation of music that would define today’s computers.

Because Ada’s programs are the most thorough – and the first to be published – she’s widely considered the world’s “first computer programmer.” Her findings influenced Alan Turing, who designed the machine that broke Germany’s “Enigma” code during World War II.

And today, Lovelace’s legacy inspires thousands of young women around the world to pursue their passion for STEM. As we celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, we recognize the many ways Cisco is encouraging girls to learn about the achievements of women in STEM, inspiring others and creating new role models for tomorrow’s global problem solvers.

Each year, Cisco recognizes Girls in ICT Day through Girls Power Tech, a mentoring initiative designed to encourage young women to pursue STEM careers. In 2016, 104 Cisco offices around the world participated, and more than 5,000 girls attended events that included hands-on activities and mentoring from industry professionals.

Cisco is also empowering young women to thrive in today’s digital economy. Through the Cisco Networking Academy, more than 6 million people have built the skills to become global problem solvers. They’re turning their networking expertise into fulfilling careers and using the curriculum to solve the problems that matter to them.

In South Africa, Soso Luningo studied technology at a local community center and discovered her passion for technology. She’s now an IT expert who gives back to her community by sharing that passion with other students. In Saudi Arabia, Dr. Akila Sarirete helped bring NetAcad to Effat University, where she’s inspiring the next generation of woman leaders.

The legacy of Ada Lovelace lives on through every woman in STEM. There’s a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the world, and for many, that starts with technology. Ada’s inventions influenced an entire field of computer science, indirectly creating millions of jobs for today’s generation of young entrepreneurs, technologists, and social change agents.

Learn how you can follow in Ada’s footsteps and break new ground in IT by visiting NetAcad.com


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco