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Ada Lovelace and women in STEM: pushing for progress

9 October 2018

Ada Lovelace was first and foremost an English mathematician and writer, but she’s also often described as the first computer programmer. Working with fellow British mathematician and ‘father of computers’, Charles Babbage, she made significant contributions to the Analytical Engine, an early model for a computer.

While Babbage was focused on the machine’s number-crunching abilities, Ada envisioned the engine to be capable of far more than calculation. With the right data and algorithms, she foresaw its ability to interpret numbers as rules to create other things, such as art and music.

She went on to devise what is now considered to be the first computer program. All of this, in 1843 – a century before the first computer would be built.

What is Ada Lovelace Day?

Ada’s insights were instrumental in driving computing as a discipline forward. So on the second Tuesday in October, a global celebration of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) takes place – Ada Lovelace Day.

It’s a great opportunity to showcase their achievements and highlight the career possibilities to other ambitious young women.

Women in STEM – the current state of play

While overall trends tend to lean towards the positive, there is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to female representation in STEM.

This year, LinkedIn reported STEM roles have seen the most change in female representation. Unfortunately, when it comes to our industry, software development has seen very little change, while the number of female data analysts has actually dropped by over 10% over the last 40 years.

In fact, when it comes to information technology specifically, it’s not looking great. Women represented only 15% of computer science graduates in 20167, while women in ICT professional jobs dropped by over 10,000 between 2016 and 2017.

An infographic showing stats for women in core STEM occupations

What is Redweb doing about it?

We know that there is work to be done and we have a role to play in improving diversity in our industry.

Over the last few years, we’ve focused our efforts on inspiring young people in the local area with events like Digital Wave and Digital Day. At these events, we showcase the many routes into digital, where a career in technology can lead and give young people access to industry experts from all walks of life.

We’ve now taken our commitment a step further by signing up to the Tech Talent Charter. This will see us review everything from our recruitment processes and retention strategies, to our employment policies and practices to ensure we’re being as inclusive and diverse as possible.

We’ll also be monitoring and sharing our diversity data with other signatories in the charter, helping us learn from their success stories and better understand where we might make further improvements.

Find out more about Ada Lovelace Day and the Tech Talent Charter.

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