Happy Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, which aims to “[encourage] people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire”.

The inspiration for Ada Lovelace Day came from psychologist Penelope Lockwood, who carried out a study which found that women need to see female role models more than men need to see male role models. “Outstanding women can function as inspirational examples of success,” she said, “illustrating the kinds of achievements that are possible for women around them. They demonstrate that it is possible to overcome traditional gender barriers, indicating to other women that high levels of success are indeed attainable.” (http://findingada.com/about/)

While Ada Lovelace Day is primarily aimed at women in STEM fields, many of the issues and barriers faced by young female philosophers are similar. And it’s always nice to have an excuse to talk about women whose work inspires us. So in honor of Ada Lovelace Day, I’m inviting readers – male or female – to post comments about women whose work has been particularly influential or valuable to them, or women who have served as mentors in their careers. Extra points if you say a little about why you find the work interesting and important.

Comments are open, people! Have fun, and happy Ada Lovelace Day.

One thought on “Happy Ada Lovelace Day

  1. There are tons of women whose work has really had an impact on me. But, there are two people who have become good friends and have been awesome mentors (whether they realize it or not).

    The first is Alison Wylie. I worked with her a bit as a grad student at Washington University in St Louis, and she ended up serving on my dissertation committee as an outside member. Alison was probably the first person to help me realize that I needed to integrate a diverse range of empirical and theoretical perspectives into my work. She helped me to see that the questions I worry about sometimes require a full on re-framing of a traditional philosophical question; she helped me to see that there is continuous feedback between the questions you ask and the methods that you need to employ in answering them; and, she helped me to realize that it’s OK to take philosophical risks, to seek out questions that people are ignoring, and to integrate insights from the history of philosophy with insights from new work on amino acid reacemization–or something like that.

    The second is Rebecca Kukla. She’s a colleague of mine, we’ve presented papers together, I’ve worked with her as a co-author, and we have served together on dissertation committees. But, she’s also served a really important role as a mentor. Rebecca has really helped me to see how messy philosophical questions are, once you try to get your answers to apply to things in the world. That’s an important lesson that I should have learned earlier, but over the past few years it’s really been brought into stark relief. More than that, she constantly pushes me to work harder, to dig deeper, and to ask more difficult questions. We frequently have casual conversation that help me to see hard philosophical questions that I didn’t see before, and many of our conversations have the happy consequence of displacing assumptions that I didn’t realize I had.

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