Tuesday 13th October may seem like a mundane day of the week but it is the day we celebrate Ada Lovelace Day across the globe. Ada Lovelace Day marks women in tech – specifically working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) – as a celebration of Ada herself, the woman regarded as the world’s first female computer programmer. The hope of today is not only to highlight the achievements of the woman herself, but to inspire future generations to follow her footsteps into the tech field.
In 1833 Ada Lovelace helped Charles Babbage develop a device called the ‘Analytical Engine’; an early predecessor of the modern computer. She worked for years alongside Babbage to refine the engine and was recognised as the first computer programmer before she sadly died of cancer aged 36. Her remarkable vision and passion for technology have made her a dominant symbol for women in technology over the years and with the power of social media hopefully more people than ever will recognise her achievements today – #AdaLovelaceDay was trending first thing this morning on Twitter!
It is no secret that women are currently the minority in the tech workforce, and only a few years ago seemed almost invisible in the market! Earlier this year we saw controversy on Social Media following an ad campaign for OneLogin, where Isis Anchalee (a female full-stack engineer at the company) was pictured in their campaign alongside her other colleagues. The aim was to attract other engineers to the company careers page, however the main reaction was that of people commenting on Isis’s looks and even questioning whether she worked there! Isis fought back on Social Media, alongside masses of other women in tech, with the hashtag #ilooklikeanengineer trending across Twitter (and the media) to help highlight the issue of how women are largely viewed in the industry.
As well as making waves in the social media world, we are seeing a rise in companies that are working to close the gender gap in the technology industry including Girls Who Code and Women in Technology. BBC Three even launched a talent programme earlier this year called ‘Girls Can Code’ in a bid to inspire more girls to take up computer science, engineering and coding. While the market is still very much a male dominated one, the hope is that days such as Ada Lovelace Day along with other campaigns such as ‘Girls Can Code’ will finally start to see more women joining the industry! There is a shortage for tech talent on the whole across the UK, hopefully that shortage will be filled with an equal level of talented men and women to finally bridge the gender gap in the industry!
Sophie Heaton (Digital Campaign Manager)