Suw chats with Mookychick about sexism in science and whether, somewhere, there’s a female Brian Cox

I was delighted to be asked by Mookychick to talk about sexism in science, Ada Lovelace Day and whether there’s a female Brian Cox out there. Here’s a snippet that’s particularly apposite, but do pop over and read the whole thing:

Ada Lovelace Day has set up a fundraiser this year. Well done on running it so long with volunteers. How will those funds help women in technology?

SCA: My key aim is to create a charitable organisation that can provide support to women in tech all year round, not just on one day. One project we’re working on is to create a database of all the different support groups that exist for women across different sectors, to make it easier for women to find the right kind of group for them. When I started in tech, I felt very isolated, a problem made worse by the fact that I was a freelance so didn’t spend long at any one company, and certainly not long enough to build a social support structure around myself. There are many more groups around now than there used to be, but like us, most of them have almost no budget and they don’t always have the reach they need. We’d like to help bridge that gap.

I’d also like to be able to help women with skills development, particularly around things like media training so that we can get more women experts on the TV and in the newspapers. Whenever there’s a big tech story, the pundits are almost always men, and it’d be great to be able to matchmake knowledgeable women with journalists so that we can even out the ratio a bit.

And finally, there’s a huge need for educational materials around women in technology and science. I’ve had a number of teachers come to me and ask if we have lesson plans that they could use for Ada Lovelace Day, but unfortunately we don’t. It would be great for us to be able to provide teachers at all grades with lesson plans that they can adapt for their classes. We need to inspire a new generation of girls and show them that women can be successful in technology, and this would be one way to could do that.

Interested in making games? Come to our XX Game Jam

For the second of our official Ada Lovelace Day events this year, we’ve partnered with the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment  and the London Games Festival to put on the XX Game Jam, a pioneering all-women event which will take place in London on 26/27th October.

A game jam is a gathering of developers, artists, and other creatives to design and make games in a very short space of time, in this case 24 hours. The event will run from 6.30pm on Friday 26 October until 11pm, and then from 9am until 6.30pm on Saturday 27 October. The theme for the games will be revealed on the Friday evening.

If you’re a programmer, producer, artist, designer, sound designer and composer, and you fancy coming along to try your hands at making some games, please apply for a spot. You don’t need to have any direct experience in the games industry, just enthusiasm!

Men are welcome to support the event and attend the games showcase and prize ceremony on the Saturday evening from 6.30pm, but only women may participate.

Entry to the event is free. Location is TBC but will be in London somewhere. And food and refreshments will be provided on both days. If you have any enquiries, please contact Debbie at Auroch Digital.

This event is also supported by DCRC@University of the West of England, London Games Festival, Next Gen Skills & Auroch Digital.

Get your tickets now for Ada Lovelace Day Live! Featuring the WES Karen Burt Award

Last year’s Ada Lovelace Day Live! event, held with BCSWomen, was such an amazing success that we decided to do it again on 16 October! This year, we are collaborating with the Women’s Engineering Society who will be presenting the prestigious Karen Burt Memorial Award to a newly chartered woman engineer at the event.

As well as the announcement of the award winner, we’ll be spoiling you with performances from:

All hosted by inimitable songstress and one third of the Festival of the Spoken Nerd, Helen Arney!

Rest assured, it will be an entertaining evening of science, technology, comedy and song, featuring all manner of wonders, from marine biology and particle physics to the secrets of fridges and performance robots. Seriously, Ada Lovelace Day Live! is an event not to be missed!

Tickets are £10 each and available from the WES site. Do not miss out!

Ada Lovelace Thanks to our partnership with WES, we’ll be holding ALD Live! at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Savoy Place, London. This is apt not least because the IET archives holds a small collection of letters, written by Ada Lovelace to Michael Faraday in 1844, as well as a letter from Charles Babbage to Faraday in which Babbage describes Lovelace as an ‘enchantress’! The IET also has a copy, by Mary Remington, of the 1836 portrait of Lovelace by Margaret Carpenter.

About WES and the Karen Burt Memorial Award
Founded in 1919, WES is “a professional, not-for-profit network of women engineers, scientists and technologists offering inspiration, support and professional development.”

Although the world has changed since a group of women decided to band create an organisation to support women in engineering, the need is still there. WES works to connect students with professionals, organise events to support  young people, and provide career support and networking groups.

Karen Burt was a WES Council officer who campaigned to improve the recruitment and retention of women in science and engineering. She was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems at University College, London, but her career at UCL was cut tragically short by a stroke.

The Karen Burt Memorial Award was first presented in 1999 to Rebecca Dowsett, and is given each year to a Chartered woman in engineering, applied science, and IT.

“The award recognizes the candidate’s excellence and potential in the practice of engineering and highlights the importance of Chartered status, as well as offering recognition to contributions made by the candidate to the promotion of the engineering profession.”

Save the date: 16 October 2012

Planning for this year’s Ada Lovelace Day is kicking off and I’m pleased to announce that this year it will be held on Tuesday 16 October 2012. As soon as we have more details about what we’re planning for the day we will let you know, but in the meantime please mark the date in your diary and spread the word! (And don’t forget to join our mailing list!)


Why has the date changed?
The primary reason why the date has changed is simply that I had an insurmountable clash in my diary. The secondary reason is that the 7th October this year falls on a Sunday which is a bit of a rubbish day for events.

I had already begun planning for 7 October. What do I do now?
Keep going! Spreading events out a little bit will help give Ada Lovelace Day legs, and there’s no earthly reason why we have do to absolutely everything on the same day. Who knows, maybe soon it’ll be Ada Lovelace Week instead!

Why isn’t ALD on one of Ada’s important dates, like her birthday or deathday?
Ada may be the figurehead for this movement, but we’re focused on celebrating all women in STEM, not just Ada. Ada’s significant dates are also a bit too close to Christmas for comfort and we’d have problems getting venues for events as we’d be in competition with parties and other festive events.

Can’t the day just stay put?
Think of it like Easter, which wanders around all over the place and yet we still seem to cope.

What will the date be in 2013?
When I have a better idea what my diary is like in October 2013, I’ll be able to set a date. Check back in about a year’s time.


If you have any other questions, please fire away! But do bear in mind that Ada Lovelace Day is organised by me and a tiny group of volunteers who put their own time into the project. It only exists because people are kind enough to give up their evenings and weekends to make it happen.