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Where women work celebrates Ada Lovelace Day

Where women work celebrates Ada Lovelace Day

 October 08, 2018

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We live in a world full of exciting possibilities. And so much of what we build, create, imagine and use comes directly from STEM - science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

To celebrate such innovation, Where Women Work is supporting Ada Lovelace Day - an important opportunity to pay tribute to women working in STEM roles and industries and to call for greater action encouraging more girls into STEM subjects and careers.

So who was Ada Lovelace and why is she important?

Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was a truly pioneering women in computing. She collaborated with inventor Charles Babbage on his general purpose computing machine, the Analytical Engine. All the way back in 1843, Ada published what we would now call a computer program to generate Bernoulli Numbers. Whilst Babbage had written fragments of programs before, Ada’s was the most complete, most elaborate and the first published.

More importantly, Ada was the first person to take a creative approach to computing. She explained how it could do so much more than calculate numbers, but could also contribute to music and the arts, given the right programming and inputs. Her vision of computing possibilities was unmatched by any of her peers.

Why is a day designated to Ada Lovelace and women in STEM?

Ada Lovelace Day is celebrated on the second Tuesday in October and the day provides a useful moment to reinforce the importance of women in STEM. The day is also highlights the work of companies who are leading the way in encouraging diversity and inclusion within STEM. Ada Lovelace Day also helps raise awareness and challenge industry stereotypes.

Who are some employers actively supporting women in STEM?

With the war for female talent in STEM being so prolific, women have a significant amount of choice regarding who they wish to work for. Here are just some of the most progressive companies actively supporting women in STEM.

University of Sheffield inspires a young generation of women

Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day with an evening of high-tech creativity at the University, a young generation of girls aged 11 – 18 years old in the Sheffield area is inspired. The University hosts a brand new workshop that enables participants to learn real magic, of sorts! Exploring with the use of Near Field Communication (NFC), participants make a necklace that can trigger events on a phone, a magic wand that can control lights and much more.

Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths at the University of Sheffield each year, as they aim to do their bit in helping to increase the profile of women in STEM and make visible many role models for both girls and women studying or working in STEM. Did you know that the University even has one of its rooms named the "Ada Lovelace Room"?

Schneider Electric empowers women engineers

There is still a common stigma in society that some jobs are specifically suited to men, or to women. At Schneider Electric, however, women are empowered to further develop their technical skills and expand their knowledge, all with support from their peers.

"Even though I’m in a minority situation and breaking the stereotypes, I have no absolute regrets on choosing this career path. I am proud to be a female engineer at Schneider Electric and I hope someday the barrier will be removed, and both men and women can be equally successful in the engineering sector,” comments Maulidya Falah, a Field Services Representative at Schneider Electric.

Amazon searches out women engineers from less advantaged backgrounds

Gender isn’t the only barrier to a career in STEM industries – socio-economic background is also a common factor. The Amazon Women in Innovation Bursary ensures that women from all backgrounds can fulfil their potential by providing financial support and mentoring for students at UK universities.

“We want to foster the next generation of high-tech superstars in Britain and help people from all walks of life invent for the future. We hope that over time this new scheme will make a big difference to many young women who one day will become future leaders in innovation,” says Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager at Amazon.

Diageo is addressing gender imbalance in STEM careers

Chelsea Riddoch is in training to run her own site in a rewarding role as trainee site operations manager with global drinks industry giant, Diageo. To prepare for her career, Chelsea completed a Diageo apprenticeship as a mechanical maintenance engineer. “I extremely enjoyed my engineering apprenticeship and would recommend it to anyone,” she says.

Chelsea believes that a big challenge right now for Diageo is competing for talent. “Careers in STEM are on the rise and our business is no different. It is also a real challenge to address gender imbalance within STEM,” comments Chelsea at Diageo.

AECOM inspires the next generation of female engineers

AECOM understands that, to ensure that diversity in STEM industries is a long-term commitment, companies must inspire the next generation of female engineers. That is why AECOM hosts events like its Open House Day to teach children about what a career in engineering would be like.

“Stereotypes about a career in engineering or construction are still rife, but the reality is very different. It’s important for young people to discover the exciting and intellectually challenging work engineers do to build a better world,” says David Barwell, AECOM Chief Executive, UK & Ireland.

Northrop Grumman helps women in STEM return to work

A big challenge women face is returning to work after starting a family. Northrop Grumman believes that this shouldn’t be a barrier in pursuing a career in STEM industries, so they’ve set up a programme that provides a 12-week ‘returnship’ that translates the skills and experience a woman developed while taking a career break into their career with Northrop Grumman.

Caterpillar provides role models to mentor women

Being a woman in the male-dominated STEM industries can feel lonely and disorientating at times. Caterpillar advocates mentoring between employees as a way for women to support women and share knowledge and experiences.

"Caterpillar is a rich source of human connection. If you want help, or have help to give, look around you. There are opportunities for [...] guidance abound,” says Tana Utley, Vice President of Caterpillar's Large Power Systems Division.

F5 understands different roles support STEM industries

F5 understands that women’s roles in STEM can be wide-ranging and varied, and not just restricted to technology skills. Archita Mandal, Manager of Technical Communications at F5, led a talk at the Grace Hopper Celebration event to inspire women in technology to pursue other fields other than programming, such as technical writing and product management.

McKesson supports its inspirational female leaders

McKesson has created diversity in its company all the way from the bottom to the very top. One such senior woman is the inspirational Cynthia Strickland, Senior Director of Serialization and Analytics for Supply Chain Services at McKesson.

At McKesson, Cynthia has led major ERP implementations as well as laid the groundwork for analytics in this space and is passionate about equity in the workplace.

Eaton women are honoured as leaders in STEM

Not only is Eaton recognised as a Prime Employer for Women, but its female employees are also frequently honoured for their role in STEM. Eaton’s Mary was selected as one of Crain’s Cleveland Business 2018 Notable women in Manufacturing; Eaton Marketing Manager Danielle earned a place on TED Magazine’s list of rising stars in the electrical industry; and Director of Engineering with Eaton’s Aerospace division Tomasina was honoured in the Women in Manufacturing Step Ahead Awards.

Women technologists at Oracle are empowered to support others

Oracle isn’t just paving the way in technology. It’s also creating a culture that supports women technologists and encourages its employees to then continue to support one another.

Moumita, Senior Manager Software Development Oracle Cloud Infrastructure has been inspired by Oracle’s helpful and encouraging company culture to establish Women of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure leadership group. “I’m very passionate about growing talent and mentoring women with careers in tech,” says Moumita at Oracle.

Do you feel empowered in a STEM career?

Ada Lovelace Day is a good time to reflect on your own career in STEM and whether your company is working towards breaking down barriers for women in the industry. If you feel like you haven’t reached your full potential, maybe it’s time to check out jobs with some of the most progressive companies in STEM. You never know, you might be a new progressive Ada Lovelace in your own STEM career!

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Disclosure: Where Women Work researches and publishes insightful evidence about how its paid member organizations support women's equality.


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