IWD: Shifting the balance in STEM

On International Women’s Day, Ada Lovelace Day and Clarivate held an event, Shifting the balance in STEM, at Microsoft Reactor in London on getting younger girls into STEM, the issue of gender bias, and the various pathways open to girls.

Our panel, Yasmin Ali, Allison Gardner, Liz Seward, Timo Hannay and Bella Harrison (bios below) were asked by moderator Nandita Quaderi to share when and how they got interested in science. Some of the panel knew at a very early age, others didn’t like maths and science at all but later discovered another way of engaging in STEM. Bees, sperm and Star Trek all also made an appearance!

SchoolDash founder and ALD advisor Timo Hannay talked about how girls lose interest in STEM in their mid-teens, despite there being little difference in ability between them and boys. He speculated that it could be due to expectations, both their own and from adults such as teachers. Teachers’ gender might also have an impact, for instance, biology teachers are more likely to be women, whilst physics teachers are more likely to be men. Yasmin Ali pointed out how engineering was not highlighted as a career for children, and that she found out about it by accident. This is despite it being a highly rewarding and inclusive industry.

Bella Harrison from Primo Toys discussed the issues around toys being heavily gendered, and how they are aiming to make toys that are more inclusive. She also talked about how children’s interests are socially influenced, especially by their school friends, and how school activities, such as learning to code, can be supported by coding toys at home.

The event also explored organisational changes to support diversity and Liz Seward from Airbus Space Systems discussed the LGBT and neurodiverse policies that they have incorporated, as well as the diversity targets for their managers. Airbus have reached a point where about 30 percent of their incoming engineers are women, which is about the same as the number of women leaving university with an engineering degree.

Seward also made the point that diversity means letting women be women, not forcing them to behave in the same way that men do, and that companies need a range of management styles in order to really be diverse. Mentorship and sponsors are crucial to developing female leaders.

And Allison Gardner explored the emerging problems of bias in AI due to the lack of diversity in development teams. The number of women in computer science has decreased since the 1960s, and some of the interventions to try and halt this decline have not worked. To try to combat this lack of diversity, Gardner has set up a women in AI network to give access to mentors and support, so that women gain more confidence in coding.

A lively Q&A followed the discussion, and we finished the evening off with drinks and the opportunity to talk further about the issues raised.

The panel:

Liz Seward, senior strategist for Space Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. She is also the Chair of Women in Aerospace Europe’s UK group, bringing together women and men who are interested in supporting and getting involved in a more diverse and equal workforce within the space sector.

Timo Hannay, founding Managing Director of SchoolDash, an education technology company based in London that provides maps, dashboards, statistics and analysis on schools in England.

Yasmin Ali, chartered chemical engineer, writer and presenter. She was awarded the Women’s Engineering Society Young Woman Engineer award in 2013 and is passionate about promoting engineering stories and careers to the public and young people.

Bella Harrison, Operations Lead at Primo Toys. Primo creates inclusive coding toys that have introduced more than 1 million children in 180 countries to computer programming in early years.

Dr Allison Gardner, Teaching Fellow at Keele University and Programme Director for the Science Foundation Year. She is a co-founder of Women Leading in AI, encouraging women to shape the debate around the use and norms of AI and big data.

If you’d like to know more about Clarivate Analytics, follow them on Twitter @Clarivate. Clarivate is a global leader in providing trusted insights and analytics to accelerate the pace of innovation.

Win a ticket to Startup Grind London!

Digital Science and Ada Lovelace Day are giving you a chance to win a ticket to attend Startup Grind’s Europe Conference in June, in London. To win a free ticket worth £298, just tell us why you want to attend!

The event takes place on 13th June 2018 and brings together 2,500 founders and investors and over 100 European startups. There will be more than 75 speakers across three stages, featuring a range of sessions including keynotes, educational workshops, and VC Q&As, covering this year’s hot topics, such as Blockchain, AI, to name a few.

How to enter
Using the hashtag #DigiSciComp and CC’ing @findingada and @digitalsci, tell us why you would like to attend the conference. Keep your answers short and sharp (you only have a few characters!). Think about what you may learn by attending – the more adventurous, the better!

Here are a couple of examples:

  • #DigiSciComp I want to attend the Startup Grind because I want to network with some of the most influential people in tech!  @findingada @digitalsci
  • #DigiSciComp I am keen to attend Startup Grind because I work on one of the hot topics, I want to hear from the leaders in that field. @findingada @digitalsci

Tweets must be received no later than the 28th of May 2018 at 12pm BST, and you can only enter once. Please make sure you follow @DigitalSci and @FindingAda on Twitter, as we will need to contact you directly if you win.

All eligible tweets shall be considered by our three-person judging panel comprising: Katy Alexander, Suw Charman-Anderson and Cameron Shephard. The panel will select the winner which will be announced on the 31st May

We’re really excited to see what you come up with – now get tweeting!
Please read the terms and conditions before entering.

Digital Science offer £25,000 Catalyst Grant

Catalyst_Grant(white_onblack)2Our friends at Digital Science love to nurture innovative research software ideas and are looking for ideas for software or apps that could help benefit scientific research or make life easier for researchers themselves. Past ideas have included software to look for patterns in vast data sets without human intervention, software to speed up the processing of neurological test results, and a tool that allows scientists to interact with the data in scientific papers.

If, as a researcher, you’re frustrated by a problem that you know you could fix with an app or software, or if you’re a software developer with friends in science who keep mentioning a problem that you think you could solve if only you had the cash to develop it, then the Catalyst Grant is for you. Ada Lovelace Day was awarded this very grant in 2015, which then allowed us to develop our resources database for women in STEM! So we can say from first-hand experience that you won’t just get cash from this grant, you’ll also get support and advice if you need it.

So, if you’ve got an idea then Digital Science have got the funding and friendly advice to bring it to life. You can learn more about the sorts of things to include in your application on their website.

The next application deadline is 30th June 2017 so there’s no time to lose. (Though if you do miss this one, they give out two grants a year and the next deadline is in December).

You can find out more about the Catalyst Grant on the Digital Science site, and if you have any questions about submitting then don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Catalyst Grant team via catalyst@digital-science.com.

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!

Welcome to our new sponsor: Mendeley

Mendeley logoWe are always happy when we get to announce new sponsors, but I’m particularly happy when those sponsors choose also to support schools by sponsoring our Ada Lovelace Day Live Scholarships, providing free tickets for school parties that wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. This year, Mendeley is providing the support for several school groups to attend our science cabaret at The IET on 11 October.

Mendeley is a productivity tool for researchers that combines a reference manager and academic social network. It helps you build and manage a fully searchable library, find new and relevant articles, monitor and showcase your publications, and annotate, share and cite documents. By providing a secure, fast and simple way to stay up to date on literature and share information with other researchers, Mendeley enables easy collaboration and greater productivity. It will also support the search for potential collaborators and new research positions.

You can follow Mendeley on Twitter: @mendeley_com

We depend on our sponsors to fund not just Ada Lovelace Day Live!, but all of our work including our resources database, free education pack for teachers, podcast, and free monthly newsletter. If you would like to join them and help us to expand our work, please take a look at our current sponsorship packages!