Ada Lovelace Day - Celebrating Women In Technology

I had no idea that I shared a birthday with one of the true pioneers of the computer industry, Ada Lovelace. A few months ago a petition to draw attention to women who are excelling in technology via blogging was making the rounds. Realizing what a great opportunity this would be to recognize many of the talented women who work in IT, I immediately signed a pledge to talk about a woman who's work in technology I admired. That woman is Amy Hoy, Javascript and UI goddess.

I'm going to share a very embarrassing story with you. I first ran into Amy during a time when I was looking at Ruby on Rails as my next step after PHP. Somehow I put two and two together between Amy presenting at a PHP conference I went to and her presence on Rails mailing lists and the Rails channels on IRC. I wrangled her IM address and started talking to her. Of course, I said the wrong thing to her. I made a joke in very poor taste about why don't all female programmers look like Angelina Jolie in Hackers. As soon as I said it, I realized what a fucking moron I was. It is a testament to Amy's character that she accepted my apology and even had dinner with me and a bunch of other developers while at the conference. We still talk occasionally and I'd like to think that Amy doesn't just answer my questions to get me to stop bugging her on IM.

So why did I pick Amy? First, she's awesome at what she does. If you read her blog and really take a look at what she talks about, her knowledge of the domain of UI just shines through. Plus, she really cares. I mean, REALLY, REALLY CARES. Cares so much she wants to grab you and shake you and tell you not only that you're doing it WRONG but here's how to do it RIGHT. She and her husband (Thomas Fuchs, the creator of the Prototype Javascript framework) have this awesome consultancy going and I wish I had the money to hire them to whip up a UI for a side project of mine. I am of the opinion that they are worth every penny they charge their clients.

Secondly, Amy is a strong believer in that you shouldn't care that she is a woman. You should care that she is a person who knows what they are talking about. I've found places (stop it, I'm not stalking her via Google) on the internet where she has been involved in discussions about how women in the IT field should stop complaining about being looked down-upon because they are women and rise above it all. Are women given a rough time by the sausage factory that is IT? They sure are. But Amy says "you're above all that shit, just go out there and do your thing." I've mentioned Amy to my oldest daughter as a woman who's been successful in the field of computer programming, and that she would be hard pressed to find a better role model.

So here's to Amy Hoy, Javascript/UI Goddess and all around character. Enjoy Ada Lovelace Day!