To kick off our Ada Lovelace Day blog series, I’m going to write about the eponymous woman herself.

Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852) was an English mathematician and writer, mainly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. Her work on the engine include the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine, and thus she is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. She described her work as “poetical science” and described herself as an “Analyst (& Metaphysician)”.

Ada suffered from various chronic illnesses and disabilities throughout her life. Despite being ill she developed her mathematical and technological passion, famously designing a meticulous steam flying machine in her early teens.

As a teenager, Ada’s mathematical talents led her to begin her working relationship and friendship with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, known as ‘the father of computers’. Babbage was impressed by Lovelace’s intellect and analytic skills, dubbing her “The Enchantress of Number”.While working together, she developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mind-set of “poetical science” led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool. She believed that intuition and imagination were critical to effectively applying mathematical and scientific concepts. She valued metaphysics as much as mathematics, viewing both as tools for exploring “the unseen worlds around us”.

Lovelace died at the young age of 36 from uterine cancer, a few short years after the publication of her notes on the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine remained a vision, until her notes became one of the critical documents to inspire Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.

Her thwarted potential, and her passion and vision for technology, have made her a powerful symbol for modern women in technology.

Cath Elms
LGBT+ Staff Network co-chair

October 24th, 2016

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11 October is Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration day of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.

Who was Ada Lovelace?

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace collaborated with inventor Charles Babbage on his general purpose computing machine, the Analytical Engine. In 1843, Lovelace published what we would now call a computer program to generate Bernoulli Numbers. Whilst Babbage had written fragments of programs before, Lovelace’s was the most complete, most elaborate and the first published.

More importantly, Lovelace was the first person to foresee the creative potential of the Engine. She explained how it could do so much more than merely calculate numbers, and could potentially create music and art, given the right programming and inputs. Her vision of computing’s possibilities was unmatched by any of her peers and went unrecognised for a century.

Ada Lovelace Day at Swansea University

Over the next fortnight, we will be hosting a series of blog posts from our LGBT+ Staff Network members on women in STEM who have inspired them. Check back every day to read the latest blog post!

The Equality team are also holding an event titled #IntersectionalityMatters, which will be taking place on Tuesday 25th October, 12 – 2.30pm, ILS1 Seminar Room. The keynote speakers are Deborah Husbands and Kathryn Waddington from University of Westminster, who will be discussing intersectionality with a specific focus on gender and race, as well as compassionate leadership in organisations. The event is open to all to attend, and lunch will be provided from 12pm. If you would like to attend, please email


October 12th, 2016

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Today is National Coming Out Day, and we at Swansea University honour all who have come out as LGBT+, as well as those who have ‘come out’ as a straight ally for equality. Coming out still matters. When people know someone who is LGBT+, they are far more likely to support equality. Beyond that, our stories can be powerful and inspiring to each other.

Read more about the services, projects, and support available at Swansea University here.



October 11th, 2016

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