In the footsteps of Ada Lovelace

Researcher Madhuri Kumari talks at an Ada Lovelace Day conference in Dunedin last night. Photo: Linda Robertson
Researcher Madhuri Kumari talks at an Ada Lovelace Day conference in Dunedin last night. Photo: Linda Robertson
University of Otago academic Dr Madhuri Kumari defied pressure to settle down as a wife to become involved with experiments using lasers and crystals to improve computing.

She was one of 33 women in technology profiled nationally by NZ TechWomen leading up to Ada Lovelace Day yesterday.

It remembers the 19th-century British mathematician who has been called the ‘‘mother of computer programming’’.

Dr Kumari spoke at an event in Dunedin last night held by the Signal ICT Grad School.

She said young women were still dissuaded from entering technology industries because at that stage they were ‘‘very impressionable’’.

‘‘Society tells you, as a woman, what you should be’’.

Women who did enter those industries noticed how male-dominated they were, she said.

‘‘It’s a bit awkward and still a male space.

‘‘Attitudes are changing, but often I find myself in meetings where I am the only woman and I think maybe things are not all right.’’

Dr Kumari is involved with pioneering research using crystals and lasers with the intention of greatly increasing internet bandwidth.

Growing up in India, she was told to ‘‘become a wife and take marriage as a fulltime occupation’’, she said.

‘‘People around me told me there is no point in women having these ambitions.’’

Signal ICT Grad School deputy director Kylie Jackson said there was an active Dunedin group for women in tech which met throughout the year.


Ada Lovelace was not the "mother of computer programming" or what ever silly title you may want to give her. That is a myth which was clearly debunked a while ago by the likes of Doron Swade and Allan Bromley. She didn't write the programs.

Local journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Otago Daily Times reporters and photographers continue to bring you the stories that matter. For more than 158 years our journalists have provided readers with local news you can trust. This is more important now than ever.

As advertising drops off during the pandemic, support from our readers is crucial. You can help us continue to bring you news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter