Everything you need to know about Ada Lovelace Day

Rosie Curran Crawley at Ada Lovelace Day Live 2024. Photo: Paul Clarke.

Someone’s suggested that your company should sponsor Ada Lovelace Day, perhaps as part of your CSR or marketing work, and you’d like a quick and easy primer on what we do and who we help. Congratulations! You’re in the right place!

What is Ada Lovelace Day?

Held on the second Tuesday of October every year, Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). On the day, we focus on two activities:

Ada Lovelace Day Live

Our flagship event showcases the work, research and talent of a variety of women from across the STEM landscape. Our specially selected speakers talk for about ten minutes about their specialty, sometimes with a comedic or musical contribution from a performer who straddles STEM and the arts.

Past speakers have included such luminaries as Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnel, Dame Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Maggie Philbin, Chi Onwurah MP, Prof Sophie Scott and Dr Hannah Fry.

The Ada Lovelace Day Online Blog Marathon

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have published one blog post per hour in our 50-hour long online celebration. We’ve posted short biographies of modern and historic women which outline their achievements, as well as drawing attention to books and podcasts by, for or about women in STEM. You can read through our archives for 2023, 2022, 2021 and 2020 on our blog.

Who else celebrates?

Since 2011, people from around the world have organised their own grassroots events to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day. We have had over 1,000 events held in 239 towns and cities, across 41 different countries.

Events are organised by all sorts of organisations, from businesses to universities, museums, schools, learned societies, professional organisations and women’s groups. And we’ve had lots of different types of events, from Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons to cream teas in the village hall, from fun hands-on educational events for children to panel discussions and talks for adults, and everything in between.

What are Ada Lovelace Day’s goals?

Ada Lovelace Day’s goals are:

  • To raise the profile of women in STEM
  • To inspire girls and young women to study and pursue a career in STEM
  • To encourage women, especially in the middle of their career, to stay in STEM
  • To provide women in STEM with a platform to share their knowledge and expertise
  • To position women as figures of authority in STEM, not just for girls and other women, but also for boys and men

We do this through our events, our content, and our conversations on social media.

What else has Ada Lovelace Day done?

Over the years, we’ve done lots of things to support women and girls in STEM, including publishing a podcast, two books, an education pack and free downloadable posters for schools. We ran a very successful mentoring program for three years, ran two online conferences through the pandemic, and published three free crochet patterns.

We’ve organised events for International Women’s Day, and our founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, has spoken at countless events and been interviewed on TV and radio.

We’re never short of ideas for how we can entertain and inspire girls and women to consider a STEM career!

What impact has Ada Lovelace Day had?

Since it launched in 2009, Ada Lovelace Day has achieved a huge amount on a tiny budget. We’ve been featured on the BBC including TV, radio and the website, as well as The Guardian, New Scientist, The New York Times and many more, with an estimated combined audience of more than 350 million viewers, listeners and readers. Our website has had 1.8 million visits and our YouTube channel over 2 million impressions.

But the most important impact has been on the women we’ve brought onto our stage and the girls and young women that our work has inspired. We have had speakers whose participation in Ada Lovelace Day Live has resulted in book deals, invitations to prestigious conferences, and higher public profiles.

We also know that some of the girls and young women in our audience have been encouraged to study STEM and have found new role models to inspire them.

How can I get involved?

Ada Lovelace Day is predominantly funded by corporate sponsorships so the most important thing you can do is download our prospectus (just fill in the form below) and discuss our opportunities with your colleagues. If you’re not sure whether sponsorship is right for you, take a look at our checklist!

If you’d like to engage your staff or community with Ada Lovelace Day, why not organise a livestream watch party for our flagship event on the evening of Tuesday 8 October 2024? We will be providing a generous discount for bulk ticket purchases, and it’s a great way to get involved!

 
 


Why we’re increasing our sponsorship prices

 

It’s never easy to put up prices, but after keeping the cost of sponsorship stable for most of the last fifteen years, the time has come for me to bite the bullet. Our sponsorship tiers will now begin at £10,000 per year.

Like many small businesses, I have been significantly affected by the ongoing economic crises caused by the pandemic, the invasion of Ukraine, and Brexit. Over the last few years, everyone’s costs have gone up, including ours. Many companies are looking to cut budgets, and particularly the kind of discretionary spending that turns into sponsorships. Indeed, my contacts in the third sector have all told me that fundraising has become incredibly challenging. So it’s not a great environment to put prices up.

Yet if Ada Lovelace Day is to continue and flourish, then I need to put prices up not just so that I can cover my (rising) costs, but also so that I can grow the business. My goal for 2024 is to have enough multi-year sponsorship agreements in place that I can hire that all important second employee to help me run the event and expand our activities.

As part of these changes, I’m offering much more of my time and expertise to our sponsors. Over the last 15 years, I’ve built up a lot of experience and knowledge of gender equity, including a deep understanding of the business policies that attract women, equitable recruitment processes, and how to mentor, retain and promote women. Sharing that knowledge with my sponsors is right at the top of my agenda.

ALD is a small and nimble organisation, with one full time employee – me! – and two freelances that I can call on when I have enough budget. I have a great venue partner in the Royal Institution and some wonderful pro bono partners in Synergy and, last year, Stylist. Despite ALD’s diminutive size, it regularly punches above its weight. I mean, how many one-person businesses do you know that have created a day that’s celebrated globally? I often can’t believe that this is a thing I did!

Ada Lovelace Day is unique in the calendar. We remain not just the first but the only day devoted to women in science, technology, engineering and maths around the world. Ada Lovelace Day has been celebrated by global brands worth hundreds of billions of pounds. And the value we bring to women around the world and to the sponsors that support us is incalculable. So please consider becoming a sponsor and making sure that Ada Lovelace Day continues to thrive!

 
 
 
 


Why we pay our speakers and why we want to pay them more

Prof Jennifer Rohn at Ada Lovelace Day Live 2024. Photo: Paul Clarke.

 

I came up with the idea for Ada Lovelace Day because I was frustrated at how few women were invited to take the stage at tech conferences. On one memorable occasion, not only was I the only woman on stage, I was the only woman in a room of about 100 people. Several of us raised this paucity of women as an issue with organisers, but all we got were excuses about how there ‘weren’t enough women in tech’ or ‘they all said no’.

So I thought that if I could persuade enough people to write blog posts about the work of women in tech, conference organisers wouldn’t be able to say that they couldn’t find any women to speak at their events. We’d be able to point at an archive of blog posts highlighting the work of some of the most amazing women in the industry and organisers could take their pick.

Ada Lovelace Day immediately expanded to cover women in science, engineering and maths, with that first day on 24 March 2009 seeing blog posts sharing the achievements of a wide array of historic and modern women. And a wider movement to encourage organisers to ensure gender balance at their events has improved the stats somewhat.

But one large problem still exists: Pay.

We still have a large gender pay gap in the UK, with the ONS reporting that the “median hourly pay for full-time employees was 7.7% less for women than for men in April 2023”. Women also do the majority of unpaid domestic and caring work. And in many larger companies where there are diversity programs and ‘employee resource groups’ (ERGs), women are often tasked with championing their own equality on top of their day jobs for no additional pay. Furthermore, most gender equality groups are run by women, either on a volunteer basis in addition to their jobs or on low pay.

When it comes to events, it’s widespread practice not to pay speakers at all. That’s not so much of a problem if it’s a part of your speaker’s job to prepare and give talks, and if their time and expenses are covered by their employer. But for many women in STEM, who perhaps work part-time or whose jobs don’t explicitly cover the time and expense of preparing a talk or speaking at an event, agreeing to speak at Ada Lovelace Day creates an additional burden.

‘Exposure’ doesn’t put food on the table. And it’s my belief that you can’t be an advocate for gender equality if you ask women to ask for free. So I don’t.

Even though Ada Lovelace Day has a tiny budget as events go, we still offer our speakers and helpers an honorarium and to cover expenses, and have done ever since we first raised enough sponsorship to do so in around 2012. Despite running Ada Lovelace Day on a shoestring, I have always made sure that I set aside enough budget to cover speaker costs.

Not all of our speakers and helpers will accept – for some, it would create a conflict of interest, others prefer to leave the money with us as a form of donation. But we offer it to everyone and we make sure we pay in a timely fashion.

At the moment, our honorarium is £100, which is a nice token of appreciation, but it’s not the market rate for a professional talk – it doesn’t reflect the time and effort that goes into writing, rehearsing and giving a talk. A lot of our speakers are self-employed, so time that they spend working on a talk for us is time they aren’t spending on other work, something that I understand only too well as a self-employed person.

In order to increase our honorarium, though, we need more sponsors. Can you help us to pay market rate, so that we can ensure that women are properly paid for their time, effort and expertise?

 
 
 
 


How to get the most out of your sponsorship

 

Ada Lovelace Day has built up a huge amount of goodwill around the world over the 15 years since I founded it, yet very few of our sponsors take the time to tap into that. And they’re missing out. Actively engaging your staff and community in Ada Lovelace Day is both easy and rewarding, and doing so helps you to demonstrate your commitment to gender equity. Telling people you care about them is never as powerful as showing through your actions.

So what can you do to make sure that you get the very best out of your time as an Ada Lovelace Day sponsor?

Engage your internal community

Talking about Ada Lovelace Day to your staff is a great way to foster engagement with both the day itself and your sponsorship of it. If you have a women’s network or employee resource group (ERG), then make sure that they know about us as an organisation and that they are kept up to date with our Ada Lovelace Day Live event at the Royal Institution on Tuesday 8 October.

Encourage your staff to follow us via social media and subscribe to our newsletter, and share our own news, such as new speaker announcements or new grassroots events being held around the world. People like to feel that they are part of a bigger movement and Ada Lovelace Day truly is a global movement with events held every year on all inhabited continents, so talking about what’s happening is a great way to help your staff feel connected.

Engage your external community

When you become an Ada Lovelace Day sponsor, you have a chance to share news about our event with your customers and communities. It’s not just an opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment to gender equity, it also helps us to reach new audiences. It’s a genuine win-win.

Whether you’re using social media, your community newsletter or talking about Ada Lovelace Day with clients and customers, you can use Ada Lovelace Day as a jumping off point for a broader discussion about the need to support women in STEM and what  your company is doing to move further towards gender balance in the workplace. And you can do this throughout the run up, as well as after the day, not just on the day itself.

You can also encourage your community to attend Ada Lovelace Day themselves, or organise their own grassroots event or livestream watch party. Our aim is to get as many people as possible to take part in Ada Lovelace Day, and that’s a goal we hope our sponsors share.

It’s also important for you to talk to other business leaders in your network about the day and your sponsorship of it. This doesn’t just establish you as a flagbearer for gender equity, it also signals to other companies how they can get involved and what they can get out of taking part.

Use your perks

We also provide all our sponsors with perks such as free tickets to Ada Lovelace Day Live, in-person or online, as well as discount codes and opportunities for me to come and speak to your staff about Ada Lovelace, or a variety of other topics. A surprising number of sponsors don’t use these perks, so rather than see them go to waste, spend a little time planning how you’re going to use them:

  • Free in-person tickets: You can give these to anyone, so you could hand them out to staff, or run a ticket giveaway for your community.
  • Discount codes: All sponsors are given a discount code for in-person tickets to Ada Lovelace Day Live. You can share these internally with staff, or via any private mailing lists or fora you are a part of. Please don’t share them publicly.
  • Free livestreaming tickets: You can use these for your own staff to watch the event remotely, or you can use them to organise an in-person watch-party for your staff or community.

This  year, I am offering all sponsors a one hour presentation that explores Ada Lovelace’s story and how she came to become a computing pioneer, as well as a look at the work we’ve done with Ada Lovelace Day over the years. I’m also offering to organise a webinar – either public or private to your own staff only – with a female leader from your organisation, talking about gender equality, women in STEM or any other relevant topic.

Ada Lovelace Day isn’t just a great event or a global celebration of women in STEM, it’s also a fantastic way for you to engage more fully with your staff and your community around the topic of gender equality. With a little thinking ahead, it can be incorporated into your comms and event planning for the year so that you can truly get the most from your sponsorship investment.

 
 
 
 


How do you know if you’re ready to sponsor Ada Lovelace Day? 

 

We have had some amazing sponsors over the years, but we’ve also learnt a lot about when a company is ready to become a sponsor. So here are a few of the things that you should have in place before you get in touch. If you can say yes to the majority of these points, then the process of committing to sponsorship will run more smoothly, and you’ll be able to tick ‘Sponsor Ada Lovelace Day’ off your To Do List that much more quickly.

1. You know how big your budget is

We have a number of different sponsorship packages designed to suit a variety of budgets, but it really helps if you know how much money you have to spend before you get in touch. That means that I can guide you to the right package with the right add-ons immediately, and we can then discuss the more important topic of how you can get the most out of your sponsorship.

2. Your budget is already signed off

We’ve made our sponsorship prospectus, including our pricing information, available for anyone to download. Just enter your email address below and you’ll get the download link by return. This means that you can discuss your options with your colleagues and get sign off – or as close as possible to it – before we have a call. Again, the benefits of this is that it makes the process much faster if you’ve already got budgetary approval.

3. Your decision maker is up-to-speed and engaged

We know that a lot of the people who come to us aren’t the final decision makers, so we understand that you might need to download our prospectus and then have some discussions internally before you can get in touch with me. We have a lot of information on our website and social media that you can show any decision makers so that they can see the kind of event they are supporting and the work that we do alongside Ada Lovelace Day Live.

Here are a selection of links you might like to share with them:

  • Our YouTube channel has videos of all our previous Ada Lovelace Day Live events up to 2019 (2023 is coming soon!) and the events we ran online during the pandemic from 2020–2022.
  • Our most recent newsletters and weekly emails are available to browse here.
  • We have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Bluesky accounts you can look through.
  • You can take a look at our Ada Lovelace Day content marathons from 2023, 2022, 2021 and 2020 on our website, along with a whole host of other information.
  • And you can learn a little about me, Suw Charman-Anderson, and our Advisory Council, the people who help to steer Ada Lovelace Day and our activities, on our website as well.
  • If you have any specific questions that aren’t answered on our website, please do not hesitate to email me.

4. You have all your own paperwork to hand

Some sponsors require us to sign agreements on how we can use their logo, name, URL or other assets, and/or to sign a contract. That’s absolutely fine. We understand that some companies need these agreements in place to protect their intellectual property and investment. Just send over the paperwork as soon as we’ve agreed your sponsorship package and I’ll get it sorted out.

You will also need to have a high quality version of your logo ready, along with a two paragraph description of your company and your preferred website and social media URLs, so that we can get you up on our sponsor page immediately. If you have an embargo on the announcement that you’re a sponsor, just tell us up front and we’ll make sure we don’t break it!

5. You have your invoicing process details ready

As a very small business, our invoicing terms are 30 days, and we appreciate sponsors who can stick to this. We also understand that you may need us to complete a new supplier form and to then raise a purchase order in order for us to begin the invoicing process. Please ensure that you know your company’s invoicing process and can give us the information we need to smooth the invoicing process. If your company pays on 60 or 90 days, please let us know and ask your finance team if they can expedite payment.

Finally, if you’re a start-up that’s still seeking funding, a small business without enough budget for one of our sponsorship packages, a large business without an engaged decision maker or you’re just not quite ready to sponsor us, then why not support Ada Lovelace Day by organising a watch-party for our event in October? Livestream tickets will be available to buy in bulk in due course, and giving all your employees a ticket is a marvellous way to take part!

You can also talk about Ada Lovelace Day to your staff, encourage them to sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social media, and talk about our work and share our blog posts and other activities with your own community. In an age where it’s getting harder and harder for us to reach new audiences, sharing our work is more important than ever. So whatever your budget, please get involved!