Friday, October 7, 2011

A Tribute for Ada Lovelace Day

I was just informed that today is, in fact, Ada Lovelace Day.

As a woman who writes science fiction (and not that long ago would have had to consider using just her initials to make sure nobody found out) I have to give a big kudos to all women in science, in technology, in mathematics.

At first I wasn't sure I could follow the suggestion to give a shout out to a woman that inspired me in science specifically. As it happens, I love scientific theory, but suck at the practice of science....hence why I am not a scientist. I also have math phobia I'm working hard on getting over. I'm not a scientist. I love science, but...

Then I realized there was and is a woman I want to give a shout out to today. I doubt any of you have ever heard of her.

My shout out for Ada Lovelace Day goes to Julien E. L. Harvatt. To any reader of this blog, she is a 'who?'. Her achievement for all women was incredible and vital, but went almost unnoticed.

She served as a civilian advisor on the committee that determined that it was not only feasible but desirable for WRENs (female officers) to go to sea on ships of the Royal Navy. Her work opened the door for women in combat roles in the British armed forces, and it was her ability to speak with and deal with everyone from the janitor to the First Sea Lord that made her so excellent in her role.

She was also a breast cancer survivor.

Both of those things, alone, made her an incredible woman. But her true achievement was not in using her sheer force of personality to convince the navy now was the time to allow women to go to sea.

It lay in creating the women they needed to be those first, brave female officers. For she did not do this for herself.

She did it, as she did everything else, for her girls. For the young women in her charge, whom she guided from girlhood to womanhood and to whom she always sent the same message. You can do anything. You can be whatever you want. You can achieve. You can stand as equal to any man born. Don't listen to anyone who tells you you are only a girl...because there is no such thing. Because you are, each of you, valuable as girls. As women. As individuals. And, yes, as scientists or as soldiers or as sailors.

Or, for that matter, writers.

Like this one.

I am proud to say that I was and always will be one of Miss Harvatt's girls.

She belonged to the most valuable profession of all: Teacher.