Calling all unpublished STEM writers

We have always supported up-and-coming talent with Ada Lovelace Day Live, giving new speakers a platform alongside established names, and now we want to do the same thing with our second collection of essays about women in STEM. Science writers Veronique GreenwoodJennifer Ouellette and Ed Yong have agreed to mentor two unpublished writers, providing structural and stylistic feedback and helping them to improve their craft.

We’re looking for two women who have never been professionally published before (not counting academic papers or blog posts). We are looking for enthusiasm, potential and a passion for communication. There are no age limitations, so if whether you’re at school or university, or looking for a mid-career change of direction, we want to hear from you. We don’t mind what you do, where you live, or what your area of expertise is, we just want you to be able to tell the story of a woman or group of women in STEM in a compelling and captivating way.

If you’d like to apply, please take a look at our our briefstyle guide, and author notes, and submit your idea via this web form before 21 March. And please do help us by spreading the word about our mentorship programme as widely as you can!

Chapter submission deadline extended

A Passion for Science cover smallWe have had a fantastic response to our call for submissions for our next book, with some fascinating women suggested for inclusion. There has been, however, a focus primarily on women in science and medicine, so in order to get a more balanced anthology we’d like to urge people to volunteer chapters on women in engineering and maths, as well as women inventors. We’d also like to encourage people to explore the amazing women in STEM from minority groups, as well as living women, so that we can broaden the types of stories that we tell and really shine the spotlight on women who are too often overlooked.

We’re also lacking diversity amongst our writers with, so far, not a single man proposing a chapter and no one from minority groups (as far as we can tell, though names aren’t the best way to assess diversity!). If you’re a guy, or identify as a member of any minority group, then please do consider becoming a part of this project! It’s very important that we have a wide variety not just in the women we celebrate, but in the voices joining that celebration. 

If you want to contribute a chapter, or can encourage a man you know to take part in the project, then all you need to do is fill in the form at the bottom of this page before 21 March. And any help you can give us in spreading the word about the projects, and the mentorships on offer, would be much appreciated!

ALD Live at the Royal Institution

We are delighted to announce that we have partnered with the Royal Institution for Ada Lovelace Day Live on Tuesday 14 October 2014. The Royal Institution of Great Britain, or Ri, was founded in March 1799 and remains at the forefront of public engagement with science. It still holds fast to its original mission:

“The speedy and general diffusion of the knowledge of all new and useful improvements in whatever quarter of the world they may originate; and teaching the application of scientific discoveries to the improvement of arts and manufactures in this country, and to the increase of domestic comfort and convenience.”

Ever since its founding in 1799, the Ri has been open to all, and women have always been accepted as members. The first woman to speak at the Ri was Joan Evans in 1923, and many have followed in her footsteps, including Kathleen Lonsdale, Dorothy Hodgkin and Jane Goodall. The Ri will be celebrating women in science throughout 2014, with all nine of the historic ‘Friday Evening Discourses’ given by women.

Of course, those of you who’ve read our biography of Ada Lovelace, or were with us at The IET in 2012, will remember her fangirlish admiration for Faraday, not to mention hercolourful comparison of him to a tortoise. Lovelace lived on St James’s Square, near the Ri, so although there are no records that confirm it, it is quite likely that she visited. We do know, however, that her daughter, Anne Blunt, attended a Discourse on 13 June 1851.

Needless to say, we are very excited to be able to hold our next Live event in the Ri’s iconic lecture theatre, venue of Faraday’s Christmas Lectures and the home of science for over 200 years. Tickets will become available later on in the year and you will, of course, be the first to know, so join our newsletter, put 14 October 2014 in your diary and join us then!

Contribute to our next book

Our first anthology of writing about women in STEM, A Passion for Science: Stories of Discovery and Invention, has been a fantastic success and it’s time to start thinking about the next one! This time, we are opening up a formal call for contributions of articles about notable women or groups of women in science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as interesting users of technology. We would like to get a fairly even distribution across these categories, but also are open to other ideas that don’t fit in so neatly.

Initially, we would like you to send us 250 words on the woman or women that you want to write about, explaining why they are notable or interesting, along with a link to a sample of your writing. Ultimately, we’re looking for 20 articles of between 2,000 and 6,000 words. At this point, we don’t have any kind of budget, but we’re hoping to raise some money to pay for editing, cover design and an honorarium for writers. Profits go towards supporting Ada Lovelace Day, which remains essentially a budgetless organisation run by a very small group of volunteers.

To find out more, take a look at our call for submissionsauthor notes, and style guide. The deadline to submit your idea is 28 February 14.

BCSWomen’s Lovelace Colloquium poster competition

BCSWomen’s Hannah Dee (@handee) talks about the upcoming Lovelace Colloquium 

The BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium is the UK’s main event aimed at women undergraduate computing students. In 2014 it’ll be at the University of Reading, on April 16th.

I set up the first event back in 2008 after going to a tech conference and finding myself the only woman in the room. It’s a strange experience – the gender imbalance is not threatening or uncomfortable, but it’s undeniably odd. Events aimed at women in computing try to provide a space where this isn’t the case, and where the gender balance is reversed. They serve to show you you’re not the only woman in the discipline, even if you are sometimes the only woman in the room.

Looking around, I realised there were events for professional women in tech, and for postgraduates and researchers in the computing sphere, but there was nothing in the UK for undergraduate women. So I set one up. Now in it’s 7th year, it’s gone from strength to strength, going from an event with 45 attendees (where we got lunch by driving to the supermarket and picking up some baguettes) to an annual one-day conference with support from major tech companies.  Some students have come along as a first year student, and then returned every year.

The aim is not only to provide a forum for women students to network, but also to provide role models through staging talks by women who are successful in computing. What we want to do is to talk about the excellent computer science that happens to be done by women, rather than running a specific “women in” event. (There’s only so much you can say about gender and the leaky pipeline, I’d much rather see student posters and talks about machine translation, or novel interfaces, or apps to identify art…)  Each year we have speakers from industry and academia, a poster contest for students to show off their own work (to each other and to recruiters), a social, and cake. And we still offer a free lunch, although it’s not generally made by me any more. This year we’re hoping to get about 120 attendees from across the UK.

To enter the poster contest, students need to write a short abstract on their idea and submit it online. The best abstracts will get their travel costs refunded, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors – so they get a free trip to the event, as well as the talks, free lunch, and the chance to win a poster prize. Prizes are donated by corporate sponsors – this year all prizes are over £150, and the sponsors include Google, EMC, Airbus UK, and Edinburgh startup interface3. (This last sponsor is a source of particular pride to me – the founder of the company actually came to the BCSWomen Lovelace Colloquium back in 2008, and has sponsored a “people’s choice” prize for the last couple of years. Lovely way to give back to the Lovelace, eh?). Full information on how to enter the poster contest can be found on our website.

If you’re an academic at a UK computing department, you could put up our poster and please encourage your women students to attend.

If you’re in industry, why not consider sponsoring us, or having a stall at the event? Student travel bursaries are all paid for out of sponsorship, so the more companies we can get onboard, the bigger the event can be.