Welcoming the Royal Astronomical Society

One hundred years ago today, the Royal Astronomical Society elected women as fellows for the first time in their history. Despite awarding its Gold Medal to Caroline Herschel in 1828 and giving an honorary membership to Mary Somerville in 1835, it was not until 1916 that women were admitted to the RAS. Says the RAS in today’s press release:

Mary Adele Blagg, Ella K Church, A Grace Cook and Fiammetta Wilson became the first elected female Fellows of the RAS on 14 January 1916. Six more followed that year, including Annie Maunder, more than 24 years after her first attempt to join.

Dr Bailey [Astronomy Secretary] commented: “Early women astronomers fought hard to gain recognition for their work, to be allowed to join the RAS and to take part in scientific discussions. I am both grateful they did so and in awe of their determination to succeed. They paved the way for women today and many are tough acts for us to follow.”

As part of their year long celebration of this milestone, the RAS will be the Platinum Sponsor of this year’s Ada Lovelace Day Live!. We are looking forward to working with them over the coming months to highlight the crucial roles that women have played in astronomy over the centuries, and are honoured to be a part of such an important anniversary.

ICE Civils Comeback scheme – Helping you back into work

Nathan BakerGuest post by Nathan Baker, Director of Engineering Knowledge, Institution of Civil Engineers

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) wants to help professionals, particularly women who have taken a career break, return to work and come back to civil engineering.

Barriers to work

We recognise that many people struggle to find the right opportunities to return to engineering after having children, taking a career break to travel or simply having tried a role in something else.  

If this sounds familiar and you, or someone you know are worried your skills have depreciated or that the sector you once knew has moved on, ICE want to help.

The Civils Comeback scheme aims to help rebuild your confidence, networks, skills and knowledge base. We want to bring professionals back to civil engineering, and have put together a programme of resources and opportunities to help.

Why come back to civil engineering?

There has never been a better time to come back to civil engineering.  It is projected that we will need an extra 1.82 million people with engineering skills up to 2022.  

Simply put, we need more people with engineering skills in the short, medium and long term.  There are opportunities available, and we want to point you in the right direction.

Impact of the skills shortage

The STEM skills shortage in the UK is complicating the ability of firms to meet the rising demand in construction. It is widely accepted that we face an impending skills crisis, with significant consequences, including:  

  • Industry competence to deliver quality products or services may be lost
  • Costs and inflationary pressures may escalate, placing further stress on budgets and large-scale planning
  • Major projects may be postponed or cancelled as no longer financially viable, resulting in the loss of UK plc competitive advantage in the global marketplace

Professor John Perkins’ Review of Engineering Skills (2013) identified that engineering skills take a long time to develop, particularly when you take account of the time needed to develop the academic foundations of engineering by studying maths and science in school.

In the short term, we can improve supply by investing in retaining those with engineering skills and encouraging them to return if they have left the profession or taken a career break. Building on this recommendation, we want to get more people back into work as a civil engineer.  

More importantly however, we cannot deny that there is a historic gender imbalance in the engineering profession. This is a reputation we want and need to shed and ICE is committed to taking positive steps to resolve this.

We need a strong and diverse workforce to build the essential infrastructure society depends on.  

What is ICE offering?

ICE has created an online resource offering which includes:

  • Information and access to work-placements with sponsoring organisations
  • Support through the ICE Benevolent Fund’s coaching scheme to provide the tools needed to get come back  to engineering
  • Use of our online career-planning resources to help identify the right area(s) of civil engineering for you
  • Access to knowledge resources and networking events
  • Access to ICE’s informal mentoring service with over a hundred experienced civil engineers offering support and guidance

How to find out more

To find out more, please visit www.ice.org.uk/civilscomeback. Or for an informal chat, contact Adam Kirkup on 020 7665 2262 or adam.kirkup@ice.org.uk

ALD awarded Digital Science Catalyst Grant

We are incredibly excited and honoured to announce that Ada Lovelace Day has been awarded Digital Science’s prestigious Catalyst Grant, alongside tech company Penelope. ALD and Penelope will share the $25,000 grant equally.

We will be using the Catalyst Grant to expand the resources section of our website to provide a global database of information that women can use to develop their STEM careers. Including data on organisations for women in STEM, grants, scholarships, fellowships, research and media coverage, it will help women at all stages of their career to find the support, funding and inspiration they need, and help businesses understand more clearly the challenges faced by women STEM.

The Catalyst Grant Program, an international initiative by Digital Science to support the innovation of new software tools and technologies for scientific research, has awarded more than $100,000 in grants to date. Awards of up to $25,000 are intended to provide initial support to take ideas from concept to prototype and are considered twice per year, once in December and once in July.

Steve Scott, Director of Research Tools at Digital Science, said, “This year’s decision was our toughest yet, with a field of over 30 entries to consider. However, both Penelope and ALD stood out and in the end we arrived at a unanimous vote. We’re proud to have an opportunity to help grow both businesses.”

Work on the new resources database will begin soon, and we hope to launch the database in early 2016.

You can read more from Digital Science on their blog and in their press release.

Introducing our latest sponsor: UCL Engineering

UCL Engineering logoI’m excited to announce our latests sponsor, UCL Engineering, who are our Ada Lovelace Day Live! Platinum sponsors. We are delighted to welcome UCL Engineering on board and would like to thank them for their support of women in STEM.

One of UCL’s eleven faculties, UCL Engineering consists of 11 departments with staff who undertake research and training across a great range of disciplines. Our scientists and engineers take discoveries from life sciences, pure maths, psychology and many other areas, mix them together, add their own innovations and produce solutions the world needs.

You can follow UCL Engineering on Twitter, @UCLEngineering.

Welcoming Slack as an ALD sponsor

slack_logo_screen_color_rgb_300We’re very happy to announce our newest sponsor, Slack, who are providing 75 Ada Lovelace Day Live scholarships for people who would not otherwise be able to attend. We will be opening applications for those tickets in a month or two, and will let you know when that process begins.

If you haven’t heard of Slack, I’ll let them explain their service:

Slack is a messaging app for teams. It brings together your work communications into one place, makes them instantly searchable, and available on any device. It integrates with dozens of popular services such as Twitter, Dropbox, Trello, Asana, Google Docs, JIRA, MailChimp, Stripe, Zendesk and others to help consolidate and make sense of the ever-growing flows of data that confront modern teams. Since launching in February 2014, Slack now has more than 500,000 daily active users across more than 60,000 teams. Based in San Francisco, with an office in Vancouver, Slack has raised $162 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), Google Ventures, Accel Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and The Social + Capital Partnership.

You can follow Slack on Twitter, at @slackhq, or find out more about them from their website.