Friday, October 7, 2011

Ada Lovelace Day - Martha Haynes

Today is Ada Lovelace Day - a day named after a women who is widely believed to have been the worlds first computer programmer. You can read more about it at  "Finding Ada" a website which is soliciting stories about inspirational women in science.

 Coincidentally (I think) my former PhD thesis advisor, Martha Haynes, posted the below picture on Facebook today in response to a post by another of her former students about how male dominated Physics colloquia (and the business lounge of Lufthansa Airlines) both are. This is a picture of ALL of the 1989 winners of ALL awards from the (US) National Academy of Sciences. This was the year that Martha and her collaborator (and husband) Riccardo Giovanelli won the Henry Draper Medal "For the first three-dimensional view of some of the remarkable large-scale filamentary structures of our visible universe."

The 1989 Winners of ALL Awards from the (US) National Academy of Sciences 
 Martha is easy to spot - the only winner not wearing a tie (2nd row, 2nd from the left). Riccardo is standing next to her on the extreme left. So in 1989 1/24 prize recipients were women.

 In fact in the 125 years the Henry Draper Medal has been awarded (although note it's not awarded every year), the only female recipients have been Annie Jump Cannon and Martha Haynes.

 Sadly I suspect the situation among such high profile award winners is not much different today, but it is trailblazers like Martha (the first women  astronomy professor at Cornell; and the only one for 20 years) who make life easier for us now.

 Martha's stories of "Haynes and his wife Giovanelli" (among many others) remind me of the pre-conceptions about male scientists, and also make me laugh!

 So today for Ada Lovelace Day Martha is the person I want to mention as an inspirational woman in science.


  1. Will Vera Rubin soon win the Nobel Prize?

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