Today we celebrate Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM), creating role models for young women and encouraging them into STEM careers.
This day would not be recognised without the achievements of Ada Lovelace. Born in 1815, to poet Lord Byron and mathematics loving Annabelle Milbanke, she was raised by her mother under a strict regime of science, logic, and mathematics, piquing her initial interest in machinery.
In 1833, Ada met Charles Babbage, a British mathematician named ‘the father of computers’, who she struck up a friendship with after he invited her to see the prototype for his ‘difference machine’. In 1842, Ada translated a short article describing the Analytical Engine by Luigi Menabrea, an Italian Mathematician, as requested by Babbage, knowing Ada had a thorough understanding of the machine. The final article ended up being three times as long as the original and even included several early computer programs in elaborate detail. It was the first of its kind to be published and gave Ada the title ‘the first computer programmer’.
Celebrating women’s achievements in STEM industries is one crucial thing we need to do in order to identify role models for younger girls who may be in the early stages of their career or may only just be deciding on which path to take. Influencing girls from a young age and showing them what women have achieved in these industries is so important to help the STEM industry become a more equal place for women to work in and to allow them the same opportunities as men.
Diversity and Inclusion Ambassador, Aishia Ullah says:
“Women make up only 17% of the UK IT workforce but 51% of the entire population, so how do we encourage more women to get into tech?
An interest in STEM subjects isn’t absent in young girls but role models, mentors and encouragement are. Slowly but surely the gender representation in STEM subjects is changing but we must encourage girls from a young age to pursue their interests and begin this conversation during their education, not after.”
Simply by mentoring a university student, giving a presentation at a school, or promoting on social media something you have achieved, will help to show young girls that role models are out there, and that they can follow in your footsteps, or make their own mark in the STEM industries.