Event formats

If you’re wondering what sort of event to organise, don’t worry, there are lots of different formats that can work very well. You can think as big or as small as you like, depending on your inclinations, resources and available time. If you’re new to organising events, Lanyard has a great guide to organising an evening event, and Quirksmode has a good one for conferences.

To help you with some inspiration, here are a selection of ideas from past Ada Lovelace Days:

Workshops

What can you teach, or help girls and / or women explore? Workshops can teach tech skills, such as coding, app development, or robotics, or help women develop career skills such as public speaking.

Talks

One of the most popular event types for Ada Lovelace Day is the talk, but there are several different formats to consider:

  • Formal lectures to a specialist audience
  • Talks to a generalist audience
  • STEM cabarets, where speakers talk for ten to 15 minutes
  • Pecha Kucha, talks with exactly 20 slides, each displayed for exactly 20 seconds, which the presenter must talk along to
  • 300 Seconds, talks last exactly five minutes

You can host women in STEM who are talking about their areas of expertise, or invite women (and / or men) to talk about the women in STEM whose work they admire or discuss research into equality and diversity. All approaches support our mission.

Panel discussions, debates

Panel discussions are a very popular format, not least because they put less load on the speakers. Some panel discussions ask that each speaker talk for five or ten minutes before the debate begins, others just plunge right in. For a good, meaty conversation, try to keep the number of panellists low, no more than four plus a moderator, and keep any introductory talks very short.

Meet-ups, mixers, networking drinks

No event is as easy to organise as a mixer for women in STEM! All you need is some space, maybe some drinks and snacks, and perhaps a theme to your event. Some mixers start off with a short talk, but the majority of the time is set aside for women to meet and mingle with others with similar interests. Most ALD mixers are women-only events.

Wikipedia edit-a-thons

An ‘edit-a-thon’ is an event where people get together to add information to Wikipedia. ALD edit-a-thons focus on adding or expanding pages about women in STEM, and are often themed around a particular discipline. If there is a Wikimedia group near to you, they may be able to put you in touch with an expert Wikipedia editor who can provide some basic training in how to use the editing tools. It also helps to have a librarian or researcher on hand to help attendees find reliable sources of information. Read more about how to organise an edit-a-thon on Wikipedia.

Museum or gallery tours, exhibitions, displays

If you’re the curator of a museum, gallery or collection, you could consider a special tour that focuses on the women in STEM whose work is on display. Or perhaps create a special exhibition of artefacts, letters and/or art focused on women in STEM.

Cream teas, coffee mornings

The more relaxed atmosphere of a cream tea or coffee morning, paired with one or more speakers, can be a great way to reach people who might be put off by a formal lecture or who might not be available in the evenings.

Fixers, tinkerers, makers and crafters

Sometimes, all you need to do is give people a space, some tools and a chance to be creative. Recent years have seen a renaissance in hands-on tech and crafting, and there are a lot of opportunities to teach people how to fix, adapt and make stuff. There’s also a huge overlap with crafting, with everything from mathematicians crocheting non-Euclidian geometry to crafters making art inspired by women in STEM. The possibilities for a fun and creative workshop are endless!

Games jams, hack days

Bringing coders, designers, musicians and storytellers together to create new computer games or mobile apps is a fantastic way to help create new friendships and increase participants’ confidence in their skills. Women-only spaces are important for games jams and hack days, as mixed gender events tend to be heavily dominated by men, and that can make some women uncomfortable, especially if the event runs late into the night.

Pub quiz

What better way to combine a convivial evening down the pub and Ada Lovelace Day than to host a pub quiz! Probably one of the easiest events to organise, a pub quiz about women in STEM is a fun way to not only test people’s knowledge but also to share some little-known facts!

Something else entirely

Of course, these event formats are only suggestions — there’s plenty of opportunity for you to do something completely different! Whatever you do, have fun with it and good luck!