Tag Archives: Ada Lovelace

As it happened: Ada Lovelace Day Live!

Photo of tweeting birds

Project Ada reported live from Ada Lovelace Day Live! in London, hosted by the IET. The “science cabaret” evening highlighted the achievements of women in STEM.

►Suw Charman-Anderson: Why I founded Ada Lovelace Day

Ada Lovelace Day, now in its eighth year, is a day to celebrate female role models. The London cabaret featured design engineer Yewande Akinola, science writer Kat Arney, planetary physicist Sheila Kanani and many more – and was hosted by comedian Helen Keen.

Sam and Clara liveblogged the event below, but you can also keep an eye on @ProjectAda_ and the event hashtag #ALD16.

Live Blog Project Ada: #ALD16
 

Suw Charman-Anderson: Why I founded Ada Lovelace Day

Suw Charman-Anderson (Photo: Paul Clarke)

Ada Lovelace Day on 11 October is a day to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM, and shine a light on inspiring role models in an industry long dominated by men. As the date approaches, we caught up with founder Suw Charman-Anderson to learn how it came about.

She tells Project Ada she founded the day in 2009, “fed up” of going to tech conferences and seeing few women on the speaker lists – or even none.

“I knew loads of women in the industry, but so few of them seemed to get conference speaking slots,” she said.

Suw, who was working in the tech industry at the time, recalls the women in tech community online discussing the issue, in blogs, social media and comment sections:

“People would name women who they thought should be on stage, but that never seemed to move the dial.”

“No one else had that imagination”

It was this frustration that gave birth to the idea of a specific day for raising awareness of female tech role models, spearheaded by computing pioneer (and this website’s namesake) Ada Lovelace.

The 19th century mathematician and STEM trailblazer seems like a natural choice as a role model. Often described as the world’s first ever computer programmer, Lovelace is best known for her work on Charles Babbage’s mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine and was the first person to realise the machine’s potential, far beyond number-crunching, to create music and art:

“She envisioned computer science as we now understand it, and saw how useful a computer would be to future mathematicians and scientists,” said Suw, adding:

No one else at that time, in the mid-1800s, had that kind of imagination or foresight.

Success stories “hugely important”

Ada Lovelace Day is all about celebrating those who inspire us. Suw says role models are “hugely important”, and she’s backed up on this by research showing that women actually need role models and success stories more than men do. 

The stories that we tell about other women inform the stories we tell ourselves about our own capabilities and futures.

In 2009, thousands took part in the first ever Ada Lovelace Day by blogging about a woman they admire. Seven years on, the day has grown into a fully fledged science cabaret evening: Ada Lovelace Day Live in London.

This year, speakers include design engineer Yewande Akinola, planetary physicist Dr Sheila Kanani, science writer Dr Kat Arney, developer Jenny Duckett, mathematician Dr Sara Santos, computational biologist Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani, and climate scientist Dr Anna Jones.

“Essential for girls to see”

“It’s an amazing opportunity to see the breadth of work that’s happening in the UK, something I think is often hidden away because the media are only interested in certainly types of STEM news stories,” said Suw.

The cabaret takes place in London, but Ada Lovelace Day events are being held worldwide. If you’re not close to one, Suw encourages women in STEM to celebrate simply by talking to their daughters, granddaughters or nieces:

It’s essential for girls to see that they have a future in STEM, and for women to see that they can progress in STEM careers all the way to the top.

 

(Featured photo: Paul Clarke)

Interview: We Got Coders’ Dan Garland on getting women into tech

wgc class

Dan Garland is the founder of We Got Coders, a residential coding school that is offering scholarships to women who want to learn how to code.

Currently, only around 25 to 40 per cent of attendants at We Got Coders are women, something Dan wants to change. Women are often his most talented students.

We had a chat with him to see what he thought could be done to tackle the lack of women in tech.

Female role models in tech

Dan believes that more could be done to show the impact of women in the past on the tech industry today.

Women in the gaming industry

Dan points out that often the computer gaming industry can be one of the most intimidating for women to break into.

Making tech a more accessible place for women

Dan believes that solving problems like the work/life balance and maternity leave in tech would be a good start to helping women break into the industry.

He also echoes what we heard at the event A Web For Her, adding that the purpose of an app is very important for getting women involved in developing it.

What do you think can be done to make life easier for women in tech?