Of all the women in science and technology to whom I might be grateful, Marie Stopes (pictured above in her laboratory, 1904) has to come pretty near top of the list.

Stopes (1880-1958) pioneered family planning as we know it today. She was a tireless campaigner for women’s rights and her book, Married Love (1918) shattered taboos on love, sex, marriage and child-rearing.


Although her UK business ran into trouble in the 1980s (the clinic I went to as a teenager no longer exists), today, Marie Stopes International has more than 450 clinics worldwide and has protected millions of women from unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion.

This year, Ada Lovelace Day takes on a special significance because I’ve been working on the RSA’s initiative to recruit more women members. The programme will officially launch at a glitzy reception next Tuesday (I think it’s sold out but you can always pop your name on the waiting list).

Women wanted

Although the RSA has always welcomed women Fellows (Marie Stopes was one of them), the current female membership stands at just 23 per cent. By celebrating female RSA Fellows in science and technology we hope to raise the RSA’s profile among women just a little bit.

The RSA’s Matthew Taylor and Laura Billings are also due to write posts today. It turns out Matthew is related to Ada so I’m intrigued to see what he says!

Setting a digital engagement strategy for RSA Fellowship

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons