ALD founder to be judge for new women in science award

Ada Lovelace Day’s founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, has been invited to be a member of the judging panel for a new award that recognises excellent in science research by women around the world.

Nature Research and The Estée Lauder Companies have launched two global awards today that seek to put a spotlight on both exceptional achievements of female scientists and those working to promote greater inclusiveness.

The inaugural Nature Research Awards for Inspiring Science and for Innovating Science, in partnership with The Estée Lauder Companies, will recognise inspirational early-career female researchers and those who have worked to champion women and girls’ participation in science.

The Inspiring Science Award, for which Suw will be a judge, honours female scientists who have excelled in scientific discovery and have completed their PhD within the last ten years. The Innovating Science Award recognises an individual or an organisation that has led a grassroots initiative to support increased access to, or interest in, STEM subjects for girls and women around the globe.

Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature Communications and judging panel member, said: “Given the inspirational advocacy for gender equality across society we’ve recently seen, it’s more important than ever that we do more to recognise and support the achievements of women in science, and that we encourage girls and women to engage with STEM subjects and pursue scientific careers. These awards will give a global platform to some of these women who may otherwise go unheralded, as well as celebrate the efforts of the leaders – women and men – behind initiatives supporting greater equality in the sciences.

“As Nature Research we are in a unique position to champion the achievements of researchers, and we have a responsibility to drive positive change in the research community. Our journals are committed to supporting gender equality, and we hope that through our connections with the research community we can identify some outstanding individuals deserving of these awards and use our international reach to share their stories.”

Suw said: “The importance of female role models in science cannot be overstated – girls and young women need to see that success is possible for people like them. The Inspiring Science Award will not just recognise excellence amongst women in research – it will also serve to create new role models to encourage girls and young women to consider a career in science.

“Ada Lovelace Day highlights the achievements of women in STEM, so I am delighted to be supporting these awards which will improve the visibility of women in science from around the world. An award that takes a global view and looks for nominees of all backgrounds is long overdue. Equality is not a ‘nice to have’ anymore, it is a ‘must have’, because diverse teams produce better results.”

Lisa Napolione, Senior Vice President, Global R&D, The Estée Lauder Companies and judging panel member said, “As a Company founded by a pioneering woman, supporting other women pioneers is at the core of who we are. We are thrilled to partner on these inaugural awards with Nature Research, an organisation that shares our values focusing on exceptional science and extraordinary scientists.

“We are so proud that more than half of our scientists and engineers in our global R&D teams are women. These scientists have revolutionised research in the beauty industry in a wide range of areas including cellular repair, circadian rhythm and epigenetics in skin. As we look to the future, ensuring a deep bench of research expertise among the next generation in emerging scientific areas is critical. We know first-hand that mentoring, and specifically mentoring of young women, is a strong contributor to long-term success, so we have built a scientific mentoring program into the Nature Research Awards. Our goal is to connect award recipients to scientific experts in their fields who have the unique skill set required to support and accelerate the awardee’s research progress.”

The winners of the awards will be announced in October. Both winners will receive up to $10,000 to spend on initiatives linked to the award and free training from Nature Masterclasses. The Inspiring Science Award winner will also receive grants of up to $5,200 to support open access publication of their research in a Springer Nature journal, and the Innovating Science Award winner will receive up to $5,200 to support events related to their initiative.

Nominations for the awards opened on April 9 and will close on June 11 2018. A longlist of ten nominees for each award will be announced on July 24, and a shortlist of five will be announced on September 4. Full details of the awards’ criteria and nomination processes are available at

Inspiring Science Award

The Inspiring Science Award welcomes nominations of exceptional female scientists and who are within ten years of completing their PhD. We encourage nominations from around the globe and from all subject areas. Candidates should be nominated by laboratory heads, department heads or someone else from their institute. This award is based on academic achievement, but our independent judging process and panel will ensure that those working in adverse circumstances or in regions where there is limited access to the scientific literature will not be unfairly disadvantaged. 

Innovating Science Award

The Innovating Science Award is open to anyone (individuals and groups) working on projects or initiatives that encourage girls or young women to become more aware of, or engaged in, any STEM subject in any region around the world. Nominations can be made directly by the candidate(s).


Addressing the gender pay gap

With news of the UK’s gender pay gap hitting the headlines, companies across the country are looking closely at how they treat women in the workforce. HR practices are, or should be, coming under scrutiny so that the right changes can be made to ensure that women are treated and paid fairly.

The UK’s Equality Act 2010 provides a legal framework within which businesses must work, but it does not and cannot cover the societal, cultural and psychological factors which influence how women are treated. Indeed, our understanding of these factors is still developing, and so the solutions we need to put in place are constantly evolving. For example, studies have shown that implicit bias training can backfire, making people believe that, because they’ve had training to reduce their unconscious biases, nothing they do going forward could be biased, which then leads to more biased behaviour.

Rather than prioritising an attempt to alter people’s subconscious attitudes, which at best is a long-term challenge, it is easier and more productive to begin by altering business processes and standards, to ‘bake in’ fairness and awareness. Changing behaviours in this way is also more long-lasting — staff come and go, and new staff need training, but good business processes persist regardless of staff turnover.

There are many places where an examination of business practices can yield results, but our recent work on our online jobs fair for women in STEM has revealed that there are a number of relatively simple ways to significantly improve recruitment, retention and promotion of women. From changing the language and imagery used in job ads and marketing, to enacting flexible and fractional working, to restructuring promotion pipelines, small changes add up to big effects.

If you would like help assessing your existing marketing materials and internal HR processes, then you can now engage Ada Lovelace Day founder, Suw Charman-Anderson to work remotely or in person. If you’d like to know more, just drop us a line.   


Ada Lovelace Day is 10!


Our first tweet!

It seems almost impossible to imagine, but this year will see the 10th Ada Lovelace Day, on Tuesday 9 October.

When I started ‘scheming’ in the autumn of 2008, I had no idea that Ada Lovelace Day would turn into something that would touch so many lives. What began as a day of blogging about women in technology has become a global phenomenon celebrating women in STEM, with independent events organised around the world. Since we started, there have been at least 453 independent events held in 157 different towns and cities, across 34 different countries, with at least one on every continent, including one event in Antarctica.

And these are just the events we know about – we frequently stumble on mentions of events that aren’t on our map!

All independent events since 2015

A truly global event

We’ve had events in cities from A Coruña to Zoetermeer, taking in Addis Ababa, Brasilia, Curitiba, Daejeon, Enugu, Florence, Granada, Halley Research Station, Ísafjörður, Johannesburg, Kathmandu, Ljubljana, Maharashtra, New York, Ockham, Pune, Quartu Sant’Elena, Recife, Sheboygan, Tunis, Ulster, Vilnius, Wellington, and York on the way. We only need someone in Xai-Xai, Xalapa, Xinghua or Xo’jayli to organise an event this year and we’ll have a full alphabet!

The enthusiasm with which people across so many countries have adopted Ada Lovelace Day, and the work that they have put in to organise their own events, shows just how widespread the desire is to support and inspire girls and women in STEM. Everyone who organises or attends an event is part of a global movement to champion girls and women in STEM and change the way we think about women in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Because this year is our tenth anniversary, we want to encourage more people to organise their own events, so we’ve launched a new mailing list specifically for organisers so that we can keep you inspired and informed about what’s happening this year. Just sign up using the form below.

If you want a bit of inspiration or help, then take a look at our indie event organisers pack, which has advice, as well as blank flyers, posters and our Indie Event logo, all of which can be downloaded from Figshare. We are in the process of translating the pack into Spanish, and if you’d like to translate it into your native language, please email me!

If you work for a museum, school, university, student union, learned society, professional body, STEM company, library, aquarium, art gallery, local council, entertainment venue, community group, or if you just want to get involved, please sign up to our mailing list and get organise your own event.

Let’s make 2018 a bumper year for Ada Lovelace Day around the world!

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ALD becomes Virgin Media Business Voom 2018 partner

Voom 2018 - Could it be you?Ada Lovelace Day are delighted to announce that our founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, will be one of the judges at the semi-final of the Virgin Media Business Voom Pitch 2018.

Voom Pitch 2018 is an opportunity for entrepreneurs in the UK and Ireland to pitch their business idea and win a share of £1 million in prizes.

There are two categories:

  • Spark & Startup is for small businesses (0-19 employees) who want to get out there in the public eye.
  • Scale & Grow is for larger businesses (20-250 employees) looking to scale up.

The competition isn’t just about winning a share of the prize pot. Entrants will also gain valuable publicity, as well as the tools to crowdfund their pitch. In 2016, competitors raised more than £720,000 to fund their businesses, which is an opportunity not to be missed!

Here at ALD, we know that women make fantastic entrepreneurs, but we also know how challenging it is for women to start their own businesses when only 9 percent of start-up funding in the UK goes to women-run businesses, and when men are 86 percent more likely to be funded by venture-capitalists and 56 percent more likely to successfully attract angel investors.

Women’s businesses often tap into markets and needs that men miss, especially retail and services, which means that male-dominated investors don’t always recognise the opportunity because they look so different to the typical high-growth, high-risk strategies that male-led start-ups often pursue.

Difficulties in raising capital persist, despite the fact that companies led by women produce a 35 percent higher return on investment and grow on average at a rate of 28 percent per year.

This is why ALD has become a Voom 2018 Partner. We believe that Voom 2018 is an amazing opportunity for women to get their businesses in front of a large and important audience and to win significant funding and support.

Entering is simple: You just need to produce a pitch video and upload it to the Voom 2018 site before 8 May, then encourage your community to vote on it, from 4 Apr until 15 May. At the semi-final on 21 May, 80 entrants will go before a panel of judges, including ALD’s founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, and six businesses will be chosen to go through to the final two days later on 23 May.

Virgin Media Business have all the advice you need to get you started, and you can follow all the news on Twitter using the #VOOM hashtag or by following @vmbusiness. On Facebook, follow the Voom 2018 page.

So get cracking! You have nothing to lose, and so much to win!

Should you be worried about ‘cultural fit’?

When you hear of companies ‘interviewing for cultural fit’, that often means that recruiters are looking for someone with a specific set of attitudes, assumptions and biases that they think will fit neatly into the existing cultural framework of the company. This can be problematic because it can damage efforts to increase diversity, resulting in a workforce that may look diverse but is actually made up of people who all think the same way. Says the Harvard Business Review:

“We might be creating a situation in which companies will be very diverse in appearance, but intrinsically homogenous. They will be hiring the same profile of people even though they might have very different backgrounds. Thus the company will appear diverse — but we know that appearances can be deceiving.”

That doesn’t mean that culture isn’t important, but from the candidate’s point of view, not the employer. The important cultural question is, does this company’s culture fit with my personal values?

If, as a woman in STEM, you rate a company’s ethics and culture highly, you are not alone. The Futuretrack study by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit found that “socially useful work” ranked higher than “competitive salary” in qualities graduates were looking for in jobs. And women were more likely than men to say that “the opportunity to perform socially useful work or work for an ethical organisation” was important.

Interviews are a two-way street

Interviews are always a two-way street: You are evaluating your future employer just as much as they are evaluating you.

“I’d recommend thinking about the characteristics of a business culture where you’d be happy and successful,” suggests Caroline Plumb, founder of Fluidly. “What type of place gets the best out of you and why. Then think about what you can bring to that sort of business, how you’d be able contribute and how you’d shape it. Demonstrate what you can bring and add, rather than how you ‘fit’.”

As you’re searching for jobs to apply for, take a look at the company’s background try to find out what kind of culture they have.

“Do a little research before the interview to find out what to expect from the company’s workplace culture, and check that your values are aligned,” says Inga Rudzitis, Operations Manager from Float. “I’d always encourage people to be open and honest in an interview, so it’s not really different for questions about cultural fit. If the company’s values fit with your own then you can just answer from the heart, which always come across better than an overly rehearsed answer that could be completely fabricated. I know that can be really difficult advice to hear when you’re job-hunting as it can feel like there’s a lot of pressure to “get it right”, but the thing about culture is that there isn’t a right and a wrong type. Some people just prefer different types of working culture, so questions about culture aren’t about determining your skill or your value.”

Faye Whitlock, head of talent at GoCardless, an online payments provider, suggests that candidates “can often get a great insight into a company’s culture through its website, LinkedIn and other social media channels.”

Ask about culture in your interview

If it’s not clear what kind of culture a company has, or if you’re not sure about whether you’d like to work there, don’t be afraid to bring it up in the interview.

“You can always ask your interviewer or recruiter for guidance on these too if it isn’t apparent,” says Whitlock. “We like to be asked why we enjoy working at GoCardless, or what are opportunities there are for career progression. A good question is “What’s a typical day in the life like…” We try to have people with different departments, tenure and seniority [in an interview], so people can ask about different cultural aspects of the company.”

Rudzitis explains, “We try to be quite upfront about what our culture is like so that applicants have a good idea of what to expect. For example, in our job ads for engineering roles we bring attention to the fact that our engineering team works closely with our marketing team because in lots of companies these departments are really separated from each other, in terms of physical distance as well communications, decision-making, and working practices. We also like to show interviewees our office and introduce them to a few members of the team, so we don’t get a huge number of questions about our culture as applicants can see what it’s like for themselves.

“When we last hired for a part-time role we got quite a few questions about that: how many others worked part-time and how that would impact the way they worked with others. We’ve also been asked before why we like working at Float and what would be challenging in a particular role. It’s great to hear questions like this because it also tells us something about what the applicant is looking for in work culture, and we can improve our future job adverts to make sure we’re really getting across why we think Float is a great place to work.”

Culture is important, but as a metric for you as a potential employee to decide whether you will be happy working for a particular company.


Xero logoThe Finding Ada Online Careers Fair for Women in STEM was sponsored by Xero, a beautiful, easy-to-use online accounting software for small businesses and their advisors. It has over one million subscribers in more than 180 countries, with more than 250,000 of those in the UK.