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Ada Lovelace Day: Emma Allison and two more contemporary ladies

Ada Lovelace Day is an event to raise the profile of women in STEM fields. It’s a glorious 50 hour event (from when the day starts to ends across the globe). Read more stories here.

I’m going to make two posts in one here — one, I want to talk about a cool historical lady (and someone telling her story), and then send some love to some contemporary ladies who I think are awesome.

The Historical Portion of our Program

So, earlier this year, I went to the Steampunk World’s Fair and I caught this information about Emma Allison floating around. Emma Allison, Emma Allison.

I’m going to call out two people related to Emma in this portion of our program — her and “Dr. K,” who is writing this project about her.

I’ll just share the summary from this year’s World’s Fair site:

“She is by no means a soot-begrimed and oil-covered Amazon,” exclaimed newspapers in 1876, describing Emma Allison, a female steam engineer at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. Miss Allison spent six months in the Women’s Pavilion of this popular world’s fair running a steam engine that powered printing presses and looms, also run by women. She was uniformly described as neat, polite, intelligent, and able to explain the complex technology in simple terms. But who was Emma Allison and how did this young Canadian come to represent the power of American women through steam technology? Why was she incarcerated in an infamous insane asylum at age 22, how did the world’s most famous suffragists hire her, and why was she found “starving” in her hotel room two months after the Philadelphia expo opened? Did she crash in a hot-air balloon adventure a few years later and did she ever start the San Francisco literary magazine that was her dream?

And about Dr. K:

Louise Krasniewicz is an anthropologist who studies American culture, including pop culture, myths, rituals, symbols, movies, and women’s issues. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on the seneca Women’s Encampment for a Future of Peace and justice in the 1980s (see the book on Amazon) and this project lets her revisit the 19th century women suffragists who are so fascinating. She is an adjunct faculty member of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Emma’s story is fascinating, and I really like Dr. K’s project. One of my favorite recent posts is a news article referring to the genuine lady engineer, and describes her decorations of her engine more than the engine itself.

Thank you, Dr. K for sharing these pieces of history, and the rest of you on the internet, go check it out.

The Contemporary Portion of our Program

Here’s two contemporary ladies who work on the web that I want to call out, only briefly, because I’m a little embarrassed to point out that they’re kind of my heroes. Thank you both for being amazing.

Nicole Sullivan

I first heard of Nicole Sullivan when a friend of mine, kid you not, said “Oh, you don’t read her blog? I figured she was like, your hero” (given that I’m into web programming). Nicole Sullivan is an amazing CSS expert and I absolutely adore the OOCSS philosophy.

Jenn Lukas

I met Jenn when I TA’d her first HTML/CSS class for GirlDevelopIt Philly (the first class of GDI Philly :)). What I love most about Jenn is that besides being so awesome at what she does, her zest for life is absolutely contagious. I feel like she brings a joy to working with the web that I absolutely adore. Jenn, you’re awesome.

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