This story is part of Solving for XX, a CNET special report exploring what people and companies are doing to make the tech industry more diverse, more equitable and more welcoming to women.
Yvonne Brill was a rocket scientist. Literally. In the 1970s, she invented a propulsion system that kept satellites from wandering out of orbit. Today’s satellites still rely on the technology. Her work was so important, President Barack Obama awarded her the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 2011, the highest honor the United States can give a citizen for contributing to technological progress.
But when The New York Times wrote Brill’s obituary in March 2013 — an honor reserved only for the most influential newsmakers — the first mention was of her “mean beef stroganoff,” followed by a comment about her following her husband from job to job and taking off eight years from work to spend time with her family. A list of Brill’s professional accolades didn’t come until later.
Readers recoiled, taking to Twitter, Facebook and emails to accuse the newspaper of gender bias. The New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, who comments on the paper’s approach to writing stories, said the piece “had the effect of undervaluing” Brill’s work. The Web version of the story was changed.
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Tagged Ada Lovelace, Aerospace engineering, Alpo (pet food), Analytical Engine, Barack Obama, Beaumont Street, Beef Stroganoff, New York City, STEM fields, The New York Times
It was not that she was out of temper, but that the world was not equal to the demands of her fine organism.
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Tagged Ada Lovelace, Ada Lovelace Day, Allan Bromley (historian), Ambulance, Analytical Engine, AudioBook, Black and Tans, Book, Cadbury, George Eliot
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, widely referred to today simply as Ada Lovelace, has been called the world’s first computer programmer for her description of Charles Babbage‘s early mechanically operated general-purpose digital computer, the analytical engine. Historians debate the extent of her contributions, but she remains a celebrated figure in the field, and the computer programming language Ada is named for her. Who was her famous father? More… Discuss
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Tagged Ada Lovelace, Analytical Engine, Augusta Ada King, Charles Babbage, computer programmer, Countess of Lovelace, digital computer, EUZICASA, Grace Hopper, Harvard Mark I, Howard H. Aiken, IBM, John Mauchly, Lord Byron, Richard Courant, Today's birthday: Ada Lovelace (1815): the first computer programmer