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Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Women's Genius

I want to challenge you. Yes, you, who are reading this article: mention five, just five names, of amazing women in science and technology you know, from five different countries in the world. The average person will likely fail to complete the challenge. Many will just mention some names they heard in recent news, like Marisa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo.

Ada Lovelace Day, celebrated every October 16, honors international women who are contributing with effort and little praise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths – women whose skills are urgently needed for the future of the world.

Here we highlight some of these extraordinary women from all over the world.

For example: Brazilian molecular biologist and geneticist Mayana Zatz is heading the University of São Paulo's (USP) Human Genome Research Centre; Mexican Environmental Engineer Blanca Jiménez Cisneros is the Director of the Division of Water Sciences and Secretary of the International Hydrological Program from UNESCO; Sijue Wu, from China, was awarded with the Morningside Medal, considered the most prestigious award for Chinese experts in Mathematics. Wu is also the first female recipient in the medal's history.

'Introduce a girl to engineering' by Argonne Library

‘Introduce a girl to engineering’ by Argonne Library (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Leading the list of women scientists is Fabiola Gianotti who is directing the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland, considered the world's biggest scientific experiment. Gianotti is followed by Sunita Williams, an Astronaut who holds the record for the longest space flight by a woman.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Seberry is well know as The Grandmother of cryptography and computer security in Australia. She is a globally recognized cryptographer, mathematician, and computer scientist who took part in the discovery of the foundations of what is computer security today.

All the women listed above are at the peak of their consolidated careers. They are role models and examples who are inspiring many girls around the world. A new generation of scientists, computer experts, and researchers are taking the first steps to lead science and technology all over the world.

In Cuba Martha Zoe, a specialist in natural medicine in Cuba using native herbs growing in the island, discovered how ‘anamu’ pills help those who are sick with terminal diseases.

In Tunisia, Sarrah Ben M'Barek is engaged in similar research, discovering innovative uses of plants. She also advocates to teach children how fascinating science can be with a creative approach.

Meanwhile, Esther Duflo, from France, founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a network of professors from all over the world who use Randomized Evaluations to answering questions about poverty alleviation.

Computer Scientist from Princeton University, Nadia Heninger, scanned the entire Internet and found hundreds of thousands of instances of insecure Internet connections.

While Linet Kwamboka, from Kenya, is a computer expert leading the Open Data Initiative and the Open Government Partnership at the Kenya ICT Board.

Ana Domb, from Costa Rica-Chile, is a researcher studying distribution systems and thinking about the intersection of culture and technology.

Erinn Clark, a self taught computer expert, is one of the bright minds behind Tor Project, updating the Tor Project code and by doing so, allowing hundreds of users to communicate privately and securely. She combines her coding activities with public advocacy.

Berglind Ósk Bergsdóttir, for her part, is an amazing developer of mobile apps from Iceland.

Twelve years ago, Chiaki Hayashi founded LoftWork, which comprises more than 7,000 creators, including web and graphic designers, illustrators, photographers and fine artists and is allowing hundreds of digital creators to work together, share their portfolios and build projects they would have never created in isolation.

Debbie Sterling is an engineer and the founder of GoldieBlox, a toy and book series starring Goldie, a girl inventor who loves to build, seeking to attract girls to mechanics and engineering.

Naeema Zarif in Lebanon is leading a sharing revolution, promoting open digital models.

Architect Joumana Al-Jabri, meanwhile, is using her technical skills to foster human rights with a variety of technology projects, including Visualizing Palestine.

In Costa Rica, Giannina Segnini is leading a team of scientist and journalists working in the most ambitious data driven journalism iniatiative in the region.

Kate Doyle, in the United States, is the director of the Evidence Project at the National Security Archive, and uses data science to uncover human rights abuses and hold criminals accountable of the most horrific crimes.

Models to follow, lives to inspire us, and names we must not forget to tackle stereotypes pushing women away from science. While some names mentioned above belong to very bright and famous senior experts, one must not forget the amazing women leading and forming communities such Mitchell Baker leading Mozilla, Cathy Casserly as CEO of Creative Commons, Kat Walsh as the Board Chair of Wikimedia, and all Global Voices Online female authors and editors, who make up a majority of our community. We should also remember those groups of women who are the custodians and guardians of traditional knowledge in all cultures.

Women have been at all times the keepers of culture, the depositories of knowledge and the seeds for the future. Lets honor all of them today.

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