Speaking of Hidden Figures…

It’s Women’s History Month, once again. SOOOOO much of women’s history is that of “hidden figures,” either because a woman did the work and a man took the credit (Rosalind Franklin), because a woman had to pose as a man to make her contribution in the first place (Deborah Sampson), because a woman’s contribution was compelled against her will (Lucy, Anarcha, and Betsey among others), or because a woman was both the “wrong” gender and the “wrong” color (the original Hidden Figures, Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson).

So I wanted to start a little sharing circle, of “hidden figures” women we should all know.

I’ll go first, with Ada Lovelace.

Ada was an English mathematician who lived in the early 19th century. Although she did not *build* the first computing machine, she did the theoretical work to move the concept of the “analytical engine” from the realm of calculation (numbers) into computation (symbols and other data sources), and wrote the first computer program, describing “a stepwise sequence of operations for solving certain mathematical problems.” (source)

Although Charles Babbage actually built the engine, his work would not have been possible without her. Since 2009, she is honored on second Tuesday in October, Ada Lovelace Day, an annual celebration of women in STEM, which was originated by Suw Charman-Anderson.

Who’s next, with a “hidden figure” of your own?

Image from the Computer History Museum.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

10 responses to “Speaking of Hidden Figures…

  1. Ms Hypatia.
    Ms Matilda Joslyn ( Gage )

    • Found at least one of these ladies – abolitionist, fighter for women’s suffrage and for indigenous rights! https://matildajoslyngage.org/

      • Yet. Had you been, in middle or in high school in any country’s American or World History courses, taught of her at all, let alone, of ALL which see, parent of several kiddos, managed in the late y1800s … … to get done ? Most students STILL never get a lesson, any lesson, in re Ms Matilda Joslyn.

  2. Ms Zitkala – Ša,

  3. Suzanne Simard, ecologist and forester researcher. Saw the connections in the British Columbia trees and massive fungal networks they lived with, the mutual exchange of nutrients between them. She was dismissed and ridiculed and then she as proven correct. “In Search of the Mother Tree” is a memoir.

    • Hey! Is she the real-life scientist who the Patricia Westerford character in Richard Powers’s The Overstory is based on?

      • Yes, that’s the one. The Overstory is so good and her story growing up in BC eating dirt is even better.

  4. Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier. While her husband gets all the credit, her contributions to his advancement of chemistry were significant.


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