Put Ada on a bank note
The Bank of England recently announced that social and prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, who currently graces the English five pound note, is to be replaced by Sir Winston Churchill, leaving Elizabeth Windsor as the only woman shown on an English bank note – and that’s merely due to an accident of birth.
Since the announcement, there have been calls from various quarters for another woman on English bank notes, in response to which the Bank of England (also known as “the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street“. Ed.) has hinted that 18th century novelist Jane Austen may be next to grace the back of the ten pound note.
Naturally, this safe, predictable choice by the Bank of England hasn’t met with universal approval. Why stick with a female representative from the arts when there are plenty available from the sciences?
We’ve written before about Ada Lovelace (news passim), who was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage‘s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine. Her notes on Babbage’s engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine; thanks to this, she is sometimes considered the world’s first computer programmer.
A petition has now appeared on the government’s e-petitions site calling for Ada Lovelace’s achievements to be recognised by putting her on a bank note. The petition’s text reads as follows:
Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has announced Winston Churchill will replace social reformer Elizabeth Fry as the face of £5 notes. This means that, other than the Queen, there will be no women featuring on our English bank notes.
A campaign is already underway to support women on English bank notes:
We would like to propose Ada Lovelace – Founder of Scientific Computing – as the new face for the £10 note. A true champion of women in science and technology.
The petition could do with your support. As this post goers to press, it has under 300 signatures (you might like to support the other petition to keep women on English bank notes too. Ed.)
While we’re talking women on bank notes, how about these women from the sciences and engineering?
- Biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, who assisted Crick and Watson in discovering the structure of DNA;
- Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the UK’s first woman doctor; and
- Beatrice ‘Tilly’ Shilling, racing motorcyclist and aeronautical engineer who solved a fatal flaw in the Rolls Royce Merlin aero engine and so stopped it stalling in combat.
Can you think of any more worthy candidates? Add them in the comments below.