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Ada Lovelace Day 2009 - Sandy Lerner

I pride myself on being a geeky girl who is also a girly girl. Of course, the trend is growing and no longer do people equate geeky girls with thick rimmed glasses and dowdy fashions. In fact, geek is pretty darned chic these days and even the trendiest of hipsters are learning to install their own versions of WordPress. It warms my heart.

But I used to be a little confused about my identity. I've always been very girly - I grew up loving fashion, accessories, hair and makeup - but when I fell in love with computers and technology as a young woman, I didn't think I had any role models to satisfy my desire to balance the nerd with the fashionista.

That is...until I found out about Sandy Lerner.

I first read about Sandra 'Sandy' Lerner in a fashion magazine in Toronto. The hip and awesome makeup and skincare line, Urban Decay, had made it's way into Canada through cosmetic heaven, Sephora. I loved the packaging, the funky colors of the shadows, the way it put sparkles into everything and the rock'n'roll glam of the line. Honestly, I was more focused on the product than the founder, Sandy Lerner, until I read the line that went something like this:

Lerner's career has taken a dramatic shift since her days as co-founder of Cisco Systems...

Cisco? As in that technology company that is so deeply geeky that even I don't quite understand what it does? Turns out, yes. From a New York Times article in 2005:

A selective polymath, Ms. Lerner has, since being forced out of Cisco in 1990 after feuds with the company's chief executive, started and sold a cosmetics company (Urban Decay), read Jane Austen compulsively, schooled herself in the ways of Colonial farming, studied the history of costume, made period ball gowns, collected books on 18th-century typography and perfected her Regency dancing. "I can dance in five centuries and two sexes," she said.

I love this woman! And, from the various tidbits found about the net about the tumultuous end of her career with Cisco, she had a great deal of sexism to fight in her day.

So...on Ada Lovelace Day in 2009, I want to celebrate Sandra 'Sandy' Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems, mathematician, geek, fashionista, sustainable farmer, dancer and all-around renaissance woman.