Girls and women inspired to try out a career in tech on Ada Lovelace Day

On Tuesday 8 October, Engine Shed and SETsquared Bristol were delighted to host their second ‘Inspiring Women and Girls In STEAM’ event, in celebration of Ada Lovelace Day.

Ada Lovelace, a 19th century mathematician, is widely credited as the first computer programmer, and best known for her work with Charles Babbage to develop the ‘Analytical Engine’ computer.

The event saw a packed diverse audience, including schoolchildren, come together to listen to a panel of women in STEM talk about their careers to date, ranging from data visualisation to scientific computing.

Hosted by SETsquared Bristol Centre Director, Monika Radclyffe, the panel were Angela Loveridge from Cyber Scholars, Helen Lloyd from Xavier Analytics, Helen Tanner from Data Cubed and Natalie Thurlby from Jean Golding Institute, University of Bristol.

They were asked questions ranging from how they got into coding, what barriers they faced and is gender diversity still an issue in this sector?

Their stories illustrated that they all came into coding in different ways and times, from school and university to work, showing that it is never too late to start a career in technology.  When asked about the challenges they faced to get into technology, Angela said her careers adviser at school had told her to aim lower, despite having a natural aptitude for computer science. She thankfully didn’t take that advice and said to the audience that “If it comes naturally and you’re enjoying it, just do it – or someone else will.”  Helen Lloyd also spoke of how her dyscalculia (numbers dyslexia) had not stopped her learning coding.

Natalie described coding as “the closest thing to magic” and advised the audience to “surround yourself with inspiring people”.  All felt that diversity in the sector was improving in and attitudes are changing.

The event concluded with the panel giving advice on how to get into technology, ranging from joining local coding clubs to experimenting at home with build kits. The key was following your passion if you enjoyed technology.

Lorraine Fairbanks, Partnerships Manager said: “Engine Shed is committed to supporting a diverse workforce for the future. This event, with its inspiring line-up of women speakers, was an inspiring demonstration to girls, young women, and those early on in their career, that tech and entrepreneurship are exciting and accessible career paths.”

Apprenticeship and training providers boomsatsuma, DevelopMe, Mayden Academy and _nology, were at the event to meet with people interested in a career in digital or coding .