Talk:Women in Science and Mathematics

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Sam, please ask your questions on the talk page. --Ed Poor Talk 15:28, 11 June 2011 (EDT)

My first reaction to the above was "Huh? What questions?" But I see that you are referring to my edit comment "Should this page be where the social issues are discussed, or just the facts?"
Here's the deal: The issues of feminism, innate differences, women in the military, whether girls should be encouraged to go into predominantly male professions like science/math/engineering, proper gender roles, etc etc etc, are enormously important issues. And it's clear from various things that you have written that you have strong feelings about these topics. (BTW, I don't feel that I have the expertise to make any contribution to such discussions.) So my question was really "What is the right place for discussing these topics?" Should there be essay pages? Debate pages? Mainspace article pages?
I just felt that the page about a 19th-century mathematician/computer scientist/whatever was too obscure a place to be airing these important issues. Is this "Women in Science and Mathematics" page the right place? It probably isn't either, though it can touch on these issues. For example, the case of Lise Meitner is very interesting. She sort of got belittled by history, but perhaps more through Nazi anti-semitism and postwar German nationalism than gender issues. It's really a fascinating story. Maybe I'll write about it someday. The case of Marie Curie is sort of the opposite. She was so brilliant (originated the field of nuclear physics!) that no kind of gender discrimination could harm her. But cases like these don't really belong in a general discussion about such things as gender roles or women in the military.
So I really don't know what the right place is for discussing the topic. SamHB 22:00, 11 June 2011 (EDT)

Grace Hopper

Ed Poor asks (in an edit comment)

Did Grace Hopper create COBOL all by herself? Did she build or invent a computer?

I think the best description was that she was technical lead of the team that created COBOL. As such, she deserves an enormous amount of credit for having the vision to see that a high-level computer language was possible, and for seeing the project through. She did not invent a computer. Computers had been invented before she came along. Many people get partial credit as inventors of the computer. Zuse, Atanasoff, Berry, Eckert, Mauchly, Aiken, von Neumann, and, of course, Babbage, are a few that I can think of just now. (And, of course, electronic computers depended on electronic innovations by people like Fleming, DeForest, Eccles, and Jordan.)

Grace Hopper did not build a computer either. She was a software person, though, in those days, you couldn't be just a software person or a hardware person; you had to know at least something about both. And Grace Hopper had good intuition about when a problem might be caused by a moth in the hardware :-)

Also, I don't think it's really right to call her "one of the world's first" programmers, though this comes down to just what such phrases connote. (It's sort of like what people commonly think "a few means" and what "several" means. It's a matter of subtle linguistic nuance.) To me, "one of the world's first" suggests something like "one of the first five", which she wasn't. I would say she was "one of the early computer programmers" or "a pioneer in the programming field", or something like that.

SamHB 22:38, 16 June 2011 (EDT)

Ada, again

Ed: First of all, let me say that I'm impressed by all the work that we have both put into Ada. We have each obviously done a lot of homework. I've learned a lot from this (I'd never read "note G" before), and I hope you have too.

I think we have both addressed the controversy about her fairly in the main Ada page. It has been a good example of wiki collaboration, or "BOTP" as it's called here. I'd like to keep the controversy on the Ada page itself, and not have it spill over into other pages, OK? So I've briefly mentioned, on this page, that there is disagreement, and left it at that. Is that OK?

SamHB 22:23, 28 June 2011 (EDT)