Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace.
Ada Lovelace is widely held to have been the first computer programmer. Close friends with inventor Charles Babbage, Lovelace was intrigued by his Analytical Engine and in 1842, she translated a description of it by italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea. Babbage asked her to expand the article, “as she understood [it] so well”, and this was when she wrote several early ‘computer programs’. 
Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was encouraged by her maths-loving mother to study maths and was brought up in a strict regimen of logic and science.As a woman engineer and computer scientist in the 19th century Ada Lovelace was certainly an unusual woman, fiercely independent and intelligent – and her ‘willingness to converse with members of the opposite sex meant that there were often rumours amongst the court gossip’. It seems fair to say that being a female mathematician in a male dominated world was not an easy undertaking in the early 19th century.
But that was long before the suffragettes and before the reforms of the 50s and the 60s  and before women – and men – actively pursued gender equality. Undoubtedly we have gone a long way but even the fact that we still have to talk about it and we are still looking at 19.1% gender pay gap in the UK,  means we still have work to do.
This article by Jared Mauldin, senior in mechanical engineering published in the Huffington Post today about gender equality and bias (conscious or unconscious) could not describe any better were women engineers stand today:
To the women in my engineering classes. While it is my intention in every other interaction I share with you to treat you as my peer, let me deviate from that to say that you and I are in fact unequal.
Sure, we are in the same school program, and you are quite possibly getting the same GPA as I, but does that make us equal?
I did not, for example, grow up in a world that discouraged me from focusing on hard science. Nor did I live in a society that told me not to get dirty or said I was bossy for exhibiting leadership skills.
In grade school I never had to fear being rejected by my peers because of my interests.
| was not bombarded by Images and slogans telling me that my true worth was in how I look, and that I should abstain from certain activities because I might be thought too masculine. I was not overlooked by teachers who assumed that the reason I did not understand a tough math or science concept was, after all, because of my gender. I have had no difficulty whatsoever with a boys club mentality, and I will not face added scrutiny or remarks of my being the “diversity hire”. When I experience success the assumption of others will be that learned it.
So, you and I cannot be equal You have already conquered far more to be in this field than I will ever face.
By Jared Mauldin
Senior in Mechanical Engineering