As a female technologist, I was excited to hear about Ada Lovelace Day, “an international day of blogging (videologging, podcasting, comic drawing etc.!) to draw attention to the achievements of women in technology and science.” So did you know that the very first computer programmer was actually a woman, Ada Byron Lovelace (1815-1852)? Ada was a mathematician who was very interested in Babbage's Analytical Engine (essentially the first design for a computer), and wrote algorithms intended for that machine. Mind you, the Analytical Engine wasn't actually constructed in Babbage or Lovelace's time, so these algorithms could not be run... but Ada was still thinking like a programmer, figuring out a sequence of instructions for a particular computational machine.
So, why is it important that Ada was a woman? Why should we be blogging today about her and other women who have followed her in technology, and other female scientists? Well, I think that there is still an enormous gender imbalance in the scientific and technological fields. Even though I've been very supported in my work, I'm still often aware of being female and the potential negative views that I could run into because of that. I've dealt with a fair amount of pejorative "jokes," classes with no other women, and fear about my ability to fairly represent my gender. This XKCD comic kind of sums it up:
I do believe that women can be talented programmers, researchers, and engineers...and still be women and mothers and daughters and female. This is an element in my style explorations and attempts not to fall into the trap of believing that one cannot work in technology and still pay attention to/enjoy what she wears and how she presents herself.
However, as I started writing this post, I realized that for all my talk of making progress for women to be technologists AND women, I'm still not comfortable with the potential that this blog could be even tangentially connected with my research work and my professional identity (not that it's directly searchable, but it's been possible to connect the two...) On the other hand, I don't want to give up the blogging. Thus, I'm now changing my username in all my fashion/style/crafting related places to elnajay (which was my first email address in AOL, if you can believe it...something created by my dad to reflect parts of my name without being at all recognizable. Back in the era where you would NEVER put your real name on teh internets). Hopefully this doesn't cause too much confusion. Does this invalidate my making a statement that I can be both a technologist and someone who enjoys style? I don't know. I hope not. For my professional life, though, I'm not yet at the point where I am comfortable not just being stylish and fashionable but being a public style blogger (in whatever limited extent).
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts...do you feel the need to keep your blog identity separate from your "real life" or other online identities? Do you feel comfortable letting people who know you in a professional context find your personal writings? Am I being too afraid about keeping the two separate?