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.

Opportunities to sponsor Ada Lovelace Day

This year, Ada Lovelace Day has some fantastic sponsorship opportunities on offer and we are very keen to find companies who want to support women in STEM. Available to sponsor are: 

  • Our website
  • Our monthly newsletter
  • The event – through vertical banners on stage and displays in the reception room, as well as through our goodie bag
  • A book, currently in editorial development, which will be published on ALD

Our community is a passionate one, full of women in technology and science in particular, as well as men, many of whom have daughters whom they want to have the same opportunities growing up as they did.

We have a global reach through our mailing list and grassroots events, which are organised independently around the world. The mailing list has 33 percent of subscribers in the US, 21 percent in the UK and 21 percent distributed around the rest of the world. It’s a similar story with our website, with US visitors accounting for 46 percent of visits, the UK 26 percent, and another 40 countries making up the remainder. Our Twitter followers are ever so slightly more British, with 36 percent of our followers in the UK, 35 percent in the US, and the remainder spread out across over 70 other countries. 

As a small volunteer-led organisation we punch well above our weight, getting widespread international press coverage on and around the day from the likes of Wired, BBC News, The Guardian, Huffington Post, the New Scientist, Forbes, National Geographic, BoingBoing, NBC News and

Our current partners this year include Imperial College London and the Biochemical Society, but we also have relationships with many other organisations, both learned and grassroots, including the Women’s Engineering Society, BCSWomen, Who Made Your Pants, Element 14, Wikimedia UK Science Grrl, Trowelblazers and others. 

We have a fantastic evening event in London on 15 October featuring some really amazing speakers and performers, including: 

  • Fran Scott, TV science demo inventor
  • Professor Sophie Scott, neuroscientist
  • Leila Johnston, technology writer and maker
  • Professor Molly Stevens, bioengineer
  • Hazel Gibson, geologist
  • Chi Onwurah, MP 
  • Helen Arney, comedian (and compere)

We have achieved all this over the last four years with no budget at all. But that has to change for Ada Lovelace Day 2013 to reach its full potential.

If you would like to become a part of a movement that has tremendous grassroots support and every year sees such an amazing outpouring of goodwill, please email ALD founder, Suw Charman-Anderson directly. If you know anyone who might be in a position to help us, please do share this blog post with them. 

Want to run a Wikipedia Edit-a-thon? Come to our training event!

Wikimedia UKThis year for Ada Lovelace Day we are encouraging people to think about leaving a lasting legacy and one idea we’ve had is a Festival of Wikipedia where groups around the world spend time adding to and improving articles on Wikipedia that cover women in STEM. Although Wikipedia is a valuable resource on many subjects, women are still under-represented as both editors and subjects, and we’d like to take some steps to improve that.

Wikimedia UK is supporting a number of events including a training session to introduce Wikipedia to organisers and give them not only an understanding of how the site works but also tips and tricks for hosting a successful edit-a-thon. This free workshop will be held in London at Wikimedia UK’s headquarters on 7 September from 12noon to 6pm. There are only twelve places, so book yours now!

You can find out more about the training event, including agenda and background, on Wikimedia’s wiki.

If you are organising an event, please let us know by filling out this handy form! We are, of course, delighted to hear about any kind of event, whether or not it involves an edit-a-thon. In the past we’ve had everything from meet ups in the pub to talks to art exhibitions and guided tours around Ada Lovelace-related locations. (And don’t forget that  your event doesn’t have to be on Ada Lovelace Day itself if another nearby date is more convenient.)