The Plotters’ Club

Ada Lovelace Day and the Arthur C. Clarke Award are excited to announce the launch of a new collaborative project, The Plotters’ Club, a Facebook group that provides a supportive space where women in STEM and women fiction writers can discuss and exchange ideas.

For women researching their next novel or short story, there’s nothing better than being able to ask an expert a specific question. The cutting edge of science and technology is a fertile breeding ground for ideas that can feed into the fiction of tomorrow, and for authors who like to just get things right, it’s a great opportunity to make sure that those little details that can make or break a story are correct.

ACharnockPortraitAnd for women in STEM, this is a great way to do innovative outreach and to ask for advice from writers about their own craft. Some of the best science writing has a strong narrative component, and authors can help STEM writers hone their outreach and writing skills.

The inspiration for this project began with a special Clarke Award ‘in conversation’ interview series exploring science fiction, STEM and writing, and featuring female authors and STEM professionals in conversation with science fiction author Anne Charnock (right). The first conversation with Ada Lovelace Day founder Suw Charman-Anderson, was published in February, and the second features author EJ Swift went up a few days ago.

We believe that fiction is a powerful medium for the communication of scientific ideas and, now more than ever, it’s vital to get this right. If you are interested in joining this woman-only group, you can find us on Facebook.

Technicians Make it Happen

Guest post by Tori Blakeman, Technicians Make It Happen.

Our country’s 1.5 million technicians are the linchpins of the economy. We rely on technicians day-to-day and they are crucial to the success of many of our country’s future-growth areas, including the aerospace, chemical, digital, engineering and manufacturing industries. Despite their diverse skills being critical to the UK’s performance in the global business arena, we are facing a growing skills shortfall.  

The Technicians Make it Happen campaign, led by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, is trying to rectify this. The campaign is raising awareness and perceptions of the role technicians play in driving the UK economy to encourage and inspire young people, their teachers and parents, to consider the benefits of a career as a technician.

The campaign highlights the numerous exciting roles technicians hold through case studies of technicians from diverse industries including music, gaming, aerospace, film, automotive, fashion and more.

Many inspiring women technicians from an array of industries are celebrated in the campaign. Here are just four of them:

Sally is a Horticultural Technician at Cambridge University Botanic Gardens. She grows specimens for the University’s cutting edge plant science experiments.

 

 

 

 

Yao is a Senior Quality Assurance Manager at Kolak Foods. She is responsible for quality control of the various food products Kolak produce, including popcorn, and manages the analytical laboratory.

 

 

 

dhanishaDhanisha is a Laboratory Technician at Newcastle University. She provides lab support to a multi-university research project into psoriasis, whilst maintaining the lab and teaching lab techniques to new students.

 

 

 

emma

Emma is an RAF Instructor. She teaches new RAF recruits about hydraulics and how to work with engines.

 

 

 

 

Technicians Make it Happen is successfully bringing technicians into the spotlight. To explore more technical careers, or to find out more about the campaign, visit the website, or follow @Technicians_mih on Twitter.

If you know an inspirational technician, or you are a technician yourself, why not tweet us @FindingAda with the hashtag #techniciansmakeithappen to tell us how technicians make it happen in your life.

Peterborough STEM Festival

PeterboroughSTEMFest2016_IMG_9294_webOur friends Digital People in Peterborough (DPiP), in partnership with Allia Future Business Centre, are once again running Peterborough STEM Festival for 2017. The event is an opportunity to promote digital careers and science, technology, engineering and maths to young people.

Inspired by Ada Lovelace Day, they would like to particularly encourage those less represented in STEM, like girls, women and other social community groups. It is both family-oriented and free to attend.

PeterboroughSTEMFest2016_IMG_9332_webThe festival itself incorporates both a school’s day on Friday 29 September 2017, for STEM workshops and challenges, and a festival on Sunday 1 October, with demonstrations, activities and talks from STEM professionals.

Peterborough STEM Festival is dependent entirely on sponsors and volunteers, and they are looking for companies and businesses, particularly those in the Peterborough and Cambridgeshire area to help them with funding. It would be a great way to contribute to the local community, and they have a range of sponsorship packages available.

“It’s our turn to make it blossom”: Aphra Bennett on attending ALD Live! 2016

Guest post by Aphra Bennett (aged 16)

ALD Live

Credit: Paul Clarke

In October, I had the privilege of attending Ada Lovelace Day and I was not disappointed.

This was the third year I have attended Ada Lovelace Day and I have watched it blossom every year, with more speakers, more people and bigger venues. That night, I was unsure what to expect because it seemed like in one year Ada Lovelace Day had blown up out of nowhere. I don’t know whether it was because it was at The IET’s Savoy Place, and I felt quite tiny surrounded by other extremely professional looking adults, or if was the fact that I felt like a mother with a child who finally realises her child has evolved into an adult. Don’t get me wrong – this is exactly what made me happy, the fact that Ada Lovelace Day was finally getting the recognition it rightfully deserved.

The first time I attended Ada Lovelace Day, I was convinced that I had to do some sort of job in STEM. I greatly admired all these women, with all these cool jobs. To some girls my age, a job in STEM is something we keep hearing about, but never actually consider because we just think ‘it’s just not for me’. Of course, when asked why ‘it’s not for you’, we don’t really have a clear definite answer, just ‘Oh, I’m not that good at maths’ or something along those lines that we have unfortunately all heard. Those statements are usually followed by an uncomfortable laughter or silence because deep down we all know that’s not a good enough reason.

Credit: Paul Clarke

Dr Kat Arney. Credit: Paul Clarke

However this isn’t our fault. It’s extremely easy to convince yourself that you are bad at any STEM subjects, because they are presented as these unattainable professions that only few with the correct IQ and brain capacity can participate in, and most of time usually with a male face attached. Of course, we all know that’s complete rubbish, but that’s just not how it’s presented to us. We think just because we weren’t able to come up with E=mc2 in our sleep, ‘it’s just not for me’.  Imagine where we’d be if all scientists with scientific breakthroughs had thought this! Where would we even be? Well, thankfully due to events like the wonderful Ada Lovelace Day, all these silly preconceived notions seem to disappear, and hope is found. Suddenly, you feel like you could be a scientist, an engineer, a technologist, a mathematician. It feels closer to home. And I cannot express how important it is that for just those couple of hours, sitting there listening to and admiring these awe-inspiring women talk about their work fields is enough for girls like me to believe that one day we could be the ones talking on that stage.

What that stood out for me was Dr Kat Arney’s talk about genes and the unlikeliness of them. It made you realise how much a single human being contains inside them.We walk around so oblivious to the fact that we are so intricate on the inside and there are so many things occurring just to make us who we are. This talk for me stood out because it made science more human that it already is. I don’t know about you, but when I was in biology classes, when discussing the human body, I made no connections to actual humans in the sense that I did not think once to myself ‘Oh wow all the people sitting in my class right now are alive and breathing because of what I’m learning today’. We treat the biology of our body like some separate entity from our actual selves. But this talk seemed to connect the biological human body to, I guess, the emotional part of the human body. Another particularly interesting talk was from Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani, about the advancement in cancer research. It felt like a cure for cancer was a close and attainable goal, that could happen in my lifetime, and that in itself was inspiring and uplifting.

Credit: Paul Clarke

Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani. Credit: Paul Clarke

Overall, I can honestly say that I never leave Ada Lovelace Day uninspired. I cannot express how happy I am that this event exists and how much it will increase the chances of women and girls of going into STEM. Because that’s the goal isn’t it? Why would we go further in human history whilst leaving behind half its population? Scratch that – how could we go further in history whilst leaving behind half its population? It sounds stupid if you ask me. We need women and girls in STEM because they are the future. Ada Lovelace imagined a future way beyond her years; now let’s imagine our own, where women and girls are at the forefront. Ada planted the seed, the founder of Ada Lovelace Day watered it, now it’s our turn to make it blossom.

Supporting women in STEM: Your ideas needed!

Digital ScienceALD Sponsor Digital Science held an event as part of their Ada Lovelace Day celebrations, Championing Success and Avoiding the Echo Chamber, looking at how we can support women in STEM. The event covered various issues, such as women and men working in STEM (and the leaky pipeline), how to encourage people to mentor, finding more role models, the media perception of women in STEM, and finally, how we can move to doing things, rather than just talking about them. There is a teaser video plus all nine talks and the panel discussion on their blog, and a variety of articles and contributions on the issues raised.

In her talk, Dr Suze Kundu suggested that we collectively make a plan to encourage people to do more, and Digital Science have put together an article of what we can each do to help bring about equality. The ideas so far include:

  • not making women feel different for being in STEM
  • using yourself as a role model in talks
  • getting support from men at the top
  • not being afraid to be yourself and embracing femininity (if you want to)
  • encouraging diversity to get rid of stereotypes

We are now asking for people to share their ideas for practical steps we can all take to support women in STEM, and have started a Google document for all your contributions. Please share your thoughts  there have been some excellent responses so far!