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 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.

Ep 11: Nanotech, the coffee filter, and how computers search

iTunes | Google Play | RSS (Soundcloud) | Stitcher

Welcome to the Ada Lovelace Day podcast, highlighting the work of women in STEM. Each month, we talk to women from around the STEM world about their careers, as well as talking to women and men, about historic and modern women’s achievements, discoveries, and inventions.

In this episode

00:31: Nanochemist Dr Suze Kundu explains how she’s using nanostructures to extract energy from sunlight.

25:13: Our invention this month is at once both mundane and essential — it’s the coffee filter!

28:12: Dr Sue Black OBE, the founder and CEO of #techmums, talks about the work of computer scientist, Karen Spärck Jones.

Dr Suze KunduOur interviewees

Dr Suze Kundu

Dr Suze Kundu is a teaching fellow at the Department of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Surrey. A nanochemist both literally and professionally, Suze’s research focuses on materials that can capture solar energy. Suze is a passionate science communicator, giving regular public lectures at schools, universities and science festivals.

You can follow Suze on Twitter @funsizesuze. Photo: Paul Clarke

Dr Sue Black OBEDr Sue Black OBE

Dr Sue Black OBE is a technology evangelist, digital skills expert and social entrepreneur. A champion for women in computing, she founded BCSWomen, the UK’s first online network for women in tech, and #techmums, a social enterprise which empowers mums and their families through technology. Sue has also published Saving Bletchley Park, about the successful campaign that she led to save Bletchley Park.

You can follow Sue on Twitter @Dr_Black, and can find out more about her on her website.

Melitta BentzDiscovery of the Month

This month, we look at the story of the coffee filter, invented in 1908 by Melitta Bentz who patented her invention and launched her own company.


This month, we’ve got a signed copy of Dr Helen Czerski’s Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life, to give away. In this, her newest book, Helen uses physics to answer some vexing questions, such as why does it take so long for ketchup to come out of a bottle? And, how do ducks keep their feet warm when they’re walking on ice?

Storm in a TeacupTo take part in this competition, just leave a comment on our Facebook post about this episode of our podcast, and let us know which woman in STEM you most admire! Get your answer in by midnight on 30 April, and we’ll let the winner know via Facebook.

If you want to see Helen talking about her book and her work, then get yourself along to the Scarborough Book Festival at the end of April, the Hay Festival in May, and the British Humanist Association Convention in June. More details on Helen’s website!

Thanks to our sponsor

This podcast is brought to you thanks to the generous support of ARM, our exclusive semiconductor industry sponsor. You can learn more about ARM on their website at and you can follow them on Twitter at @ARMHoldings.

If you would like to join ARM as a sponsor of the Ada Lovelace Day Podcast, please email us.

Get in touch!

If you’d like to send us feedback about the show, or if you’d like to take part, please email us. We’re especially interested in hear from men who would like to talk to us about the women in STEM who have influenced them, especially those women who are less well known.


Episode edited by Andrew Marks.

Our links


Hidden Figures screenwriter Allison Schroeder talks to Helen Keen

For the latest episode of her podcast, Adventures of Space and Tim, Ada Lovelace Day alumna Helen Keen spoke to screenwriter Allison Schroeder about her film Hidden  Figures. The box office smash hit tells the remarkable true story of Katherine G Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, three brilliant African-American women whose work at NASA was instrumental in putting John Glenn into orbit.

Keen talks to Schroeder about her favourite scenes, what it was like to mix space-fact and fiction, and the huge impact the film is having, particularly on younger audience members. She also discusses her feelings of optimism for the future of STEM, and also Hollywood. (Read more on the shortage of women in STEM affecting the UK and diversity in Hollywood (PDF).)

Allison Schroeder

Writer Allison Schroeder arrives on the red carpet for the global celebration of the film "Hidden Figures" at the SVA Theatre, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 in New York. The film is based on the book of the same title, by Margot Lee Shetterly, and chronicles the lives of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- African-American women working at NASA as “human computers,” who were critical to the success of John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission in 1962. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Allison Schroeder is a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Hidden Figures draws on her personal history, growing up near NASA in Florida where both her grandparents worked and then she interned herself at NASA for many years.  Schroeder also has a musical pilot in development at Universal Cable and a feature, Agatha, is in development at Paramount. Her other credits include the musical Side Effects, 90210 and Mean Girls 2. She is the Co-Chair of the WGA Women’s Committee and serves on the WGA Diversity Advisory Board.

Both of Schroeder’s grandparents worked at NASA in Cape Canaveral as engineers, first on the Mercury, then Apollo missions.  Her grandmother, who was one of the first women in mission control, stayed on for the shuttle missions as well.

When Schroeder was in 8th grade, she was selected for NASA’s NURTURE program, attending special sessions at Cape Canaveral and learning a variety of things from programming to how the shuttle worked.

She later attended Stanford, majoring in Economics, which was also heavy in maths.  Although she is now devoted to her career as a writer, she still does maths — most recently breaking out the latest WGA statistics on hiring for women and minorities into a variety of user-friendly charts and graphs.

Adventures in Space and Tim

This interview is part of a series of Adventures in Space and Tim podcasts exploring the space industry and inspired by Tim Peake’s Principia mission to the International Space Station. It is supported by the UK Space Agency and the International Centre for Life. Previous guests on include first Briton in space Helen Sharman, former space flight director Libby Jackson, and nanochemist and science communicator Dr Suze Kundu.