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Ada Lovelace Day and the SAP Community Network

Thanks to a Facebook invite from the inimitable Sandy Kemsley , I learned about Ada Lovelace Day a few months back.

Suw Charman-Anderson, herself a fascinating woman, wrote:

“I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.”

By the way, for those of you, who like myself, weren’t sure who Ada is, Suw Charman-Anderson explains: ;

Ada Lovelace was one of the world’s first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built.”;

Now as a value-add in my job as an SAP Community Evangelist, I have the privilege of knowing some of the smartest techies on the planet.  So my first and seemingly only challenge in role models was  finding “A” woman… as in limiting myself to a single role model.

I found that approach a tiny bit…well…limiting. And soon realized rather than to try to name every remarkable woman in Technology I know or know of, I could introduce people outside my SAP Community Network and perhaps even inside that community, to some of the women of the community I admire.  So I’ll name just a few (okay, now second huge challenge that few limitation) of my local heroines and by linking you to their blogs, tweets, or wiki profiles allow you all the pleasure of discovery or perhaps further introduction.

Bhanu Gupta – I first met Bhanu during SAP TechEd in September 2006, when she attended the first Business Process Expert Day, but I had been a fan of this Business Intelligence nova for a long while before that, as she rapidly became one of the most prolific forum participants on the SAP Developer Network attaining top contributor ranking internationally.  She told a great community story as many of the folks in the community didn’t realize she was a woman.

Anne Kathrine Petteroe – Ann also told a great community story of how twitter facilitated our meeting her in the SAP headquarters during an  SCN Meetup in Walldorf – Later, I had the privilege to meet with Anne again when she came to TechEd Berlin 2008 as one of the developers of ESME and a powerful contestant in “Demo Jam”.

Moya Watson – Technical evangelist and all around SAP superstar, Moya,  writes like a dynamo and shepherds software solutions to release.  Moya introduced me to the world of digital anthropology through her blog posts on the SAP Developer Network and celebrated women in technology by pointing to the book O’Reilly Goes Live with Women In Technology Series [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] [original link is broken] is a tools mentor and community evangelist for Visual Composer – You can do anything…. .  This fellow Israeli who studied industrial engineering garnered comments and followers on her blog posts from every corner of the globe and is a frequent speaker at SAP TechEd.

Ginger Gatling was my teacher and mentor in a number of SAP related technical courses and has been a colleague for over a decade.  Can’t say enough good things about the way she transfers knowledge to thousands of people online and at live events.  She has this way of explaining technology that makes you feel “you get it”.  She introduced me to Workflow for Suits – TechEd Community Day BoF Session who goes under the code name SAP Workflow Goddess and who is an active ASUG (SAP User Group) volunteer leader who in turn introduced me to Gretchen Lindquist who has been “working in SAP Security since 1997… the lead configurator and technical support analyst for an SAP partner system in her ERP landscape”  and somehow it seems like I’ve know forever yet another ASUG leader  Karin Tillotson, Technical Lead for Valero’s  SAP Data Archiving Project.

And then, one of my newest …and perhaps youngest technology heroines, another colleague and community member Jen Robinson whose simple list of places you can find her “Elsewhere”, as she proclaims on her wiki profile, belies her depth and maturity and the passionate commitment those activities have her engaging in.

Now since I see my list is already 9 women long and I have about 100 more to go, and I haven’t done this in any particular order, I’ll conclude with a warm acknowledgment and shout out to the other dozens of techie women in our SAP Community Network, colleagues, mentors, fellow community members whose ranks thankfully are swelling and can be seen coaching Business Expert topics, consulting in the world’s largest businesses and organizations, evangelizing education and certification, championing sustainability, mentoring developers and business process experts, managing industry communities, coding solutions, supporting process integrations and representing a world of talented women, who have chosen to follow a career path in technology.  Even if I haven’t explicitly named you in this posting you know exactly who you are.

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  • Marilyn - I am privileged and honored to know many of the people you cited, through SCN and through ASUG.  Many ASUG volunteer leaders are women; one who I'd like to recognize is Carolyn Pickton, a leader in the Data Governance group.  She remained an active community volunteer even through a career change, contacting us via her personal email until her new employer came on board.  She has organized events, including an annual free conference for 200-300 experts in master data management, held in the midwest of the United States.


    • Thanks so much for introducing all of us here to another ASUG leader and role model (I might note, you Jim, also cared to make double sure I had been introduced to all the folks in ASUG I've mentioned above, and they in turn wanted me to meet you).  I hope others will follow your lead and use the comments here to honor the day.
  • The only thing missing in your blog was your name.  When we met in Chicago, I had a small suspicion that it would lead to great things, but was amazed at how things turned out. 
    I am flattered and honored to be mentioned in your blog and look forward to working and collaborating with you in the future.  Karin
    • Too kind, but I'm pleased others are adding their own colleagues and blogging about this externally as well.  I'm missing Umit Yalcinap and enjoy her recognition of women in technology standards post.
    • I am in complete agreement with Karin that Marilyn's name should be in the list.

      Hi Marilyn,

      I held high regards about you before I met you at Reporting & Analytics Conf. in Nov 2008. After the meeting, it has only grown higher.

      I am impressed by your natural flair and elegance for writing. Your magnanimous attitude to help and mentor others is admirable.

      About Ms. Lovelace - one of the computer languages ADA was named to honor her contribution. Since programming still runs in my blood, I wrote the below verse as a tribute to the first programmer - Augusta Ada King (Byron), The Countess of Lovelace.

      Pioneered a profession ensued by Countless
      The Enchantress of Numbers, a Countess.
      Microsoft engraved the picturesque face
      Of a Poet’s daughter with aristocratic grace.

      The above words, written few years back, were intended as a 'riddle'. You can find this riddle and some others in my personal webpage -

      Mr. Jeevan Kumar Ravindran

  • Hi Marilyn,
    I am indeed honored to be in this blog, and may I return the favor?  I first met you at an ASUG Volunteer meeting in 2007.  You truly inspire me to look at the community as a whole, and have opened up whole networks of friends for me.  I also honor Gretchen, Karin, Kristen Dennis, Dawn Haymond, Anna (who someday I hope to meet).  And just to be fair, Jim Spath should be an honored, even though he is not a woman, he certainly inspires and evangelizes those of us who know him.
    to be included in such worthy list and to be honored from one of MY idols -- i feel complete!
    and the timing could not be better; we are in need of a boost as we are away to memorialize my wife's grandma, who died on saturday at 96 1/2 years of age, and who herself was a pioneer so that all of us could have more opportunity after her.
    truly honored.
  • Marilyn:

    I don't think I need to tell you how much I admire you...Because I'm sure you already know that -;)
    I will never forget when we meet at TechEd 07 Las Vegas...I feel like I knew you forever...Such kindness and warm are not easy to show...but you always manage to make everybody feeling like home -:)


    • Thank you.  And what about the Technology women in your piece of this planet earth?  I know some amazing Peruvian women here in New Jersey who are educators, poets, thinkers, but no techies.  Please share some here from your part of the world.  And if you don't know them yet, create them, mentor them.  Your Kiera might be one some day....
  • Hi Marilyn -

    I like this blog ... 🙂 

    I'll take this opportunity to remind folks that the first "computers" were a group of ~80 women at the University of Pennsylvania during World War II who calculated ballistics trajectories - complex differential equations - by hand. When the Army agreed to fund an experimental project, the first all-electronic digital computer, six "Computers" (that was their title) were selected in 1945 to be its first programmers.

    (This was back in the days when the computer machines occupied entire rooms, and when "bugs" in the system really were bugs.) 

    One fact of the current era is that only a relatively small number of women choose technology careers.  For example, about 13 percent of our SAP Community Network members are women.  But I will also underscore that what we lack in numbers we make up in quality.  The women you have listed are extraordinary experts and contributors... we'd like to see more of them emerge in the months ahead. 

    Mark Yolton  

  • Firstly, nice Blog Ms Pratt.

    And LOL.. thanks for letting me know that Bhanu Gupta is in fact Ms Bhanu Gupta. Im one of those who assumed otherwise. But there's a well-founded reason for the same. "Bhanu" per se is a very common man-ly name in South India, especially Andhra and hence the confusion. Just wanted to clear the air about it, if Ms Bhanu is listening 🙂