Ada Lovelace day 2018 we speak with female tech leaders to find out more on the importance of role models in getting young girls and women into STEM careers and ask them who or what inspired them.
Ada had a tragically short life but in her short 36 years she was a writer and mathematician of note and a peer of Charles Babbage who dubbed her “the enchantress of numbers”. It’s clear from her notes she had a deep understanding of his early work in computing and would become a pioneer in her own right writing functional code for his analytical engine making her the first computer programmer.
It’s only appropriate that we remember her life and work and use her memory to encourage more women into tech. In part two of this feature we hear from;
- Claire Vyvyan, Senior Vice President, Dell EMC UK&I
- Sarah Kaiser, Employee Experience, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Fujitsu EMEIA
- Jayne Stone, Chief Operations Officer, Vuealta
- Jackie Shelton, Regional VP UKI at Anaplan
Opportunities are endless
Today gives us the opportunity to remind ourselves we need to keep encouraging the next generation of young, female talent to develop their careers in STEM industries.
Technology is an outstanding field to work in. It has given me the opportunity to work across multiple industries where the pace of change is incredible and the opportunities are endless.
It affects everything that happens in the world today so if you like making a difference, like driving a business, like to look at the “art of the possible”, enjoy creating new products and services, then Information Technology is the only field to be in.
Claire Vyvyan, Senior Vice President, Dell EMC UK&I
See also: Embedding Diversity in the Organisation
Ada Lovelace day signals an important milestone in the year – how much better we have become at making female role models more visible. Although we’ve come a long way in celebrating not just men but the women who have shaped our world today, more still needs to be done to attract female talent into STEM roles.
A shortage of candidates is partly due to a lack of awareness of the opportunities that exist, and the flawed perception that some groups, such as women, don’t belong in STEM professions. But because you can’t adequately think about what people worldwide need if you don’t have a diverse team, providing insight from all perspectives, promoting diversity is crucial for ensuring the future competitiveness of the economy.
It’s important that all organisations – both public and private – join forces to encourage all students—girls as well as boys—to take up STEM subjects, helping them understand the positive impact this knowledge will have on their lives and future careers. One way we can pave the way for more girls to pursue STEM careers is by telling the stories of some of the great female tech trailblazers like Ada Lovelace. After all, showcasing female role models will help to inspire young girls and women to follow in their footsteps.
Throughout my life, there have been so many fantastic women who have inspired me. Outside of work, for instance, one is Sophie Deen, founder of the Detective Dot series of books which encourage kids from all backgrounds to get into tech – she was actually in my class at school and it’s incredible to see what she has achieved and the passion she has brought to her work. Then there’s Caroline Criado-Perez who has done so much for championing the representation of women in public life and closing the gender data gap. Within Fujitsu, there are a number of women including – Wendy Warham, Helen Lamb, Val Risk, Sonia Hussain, Rachel Marsh, Carla Hall and Amanda Craib – who are all authentically themselves and deliver amazing things for our business!”
Sarah Kaiser, Employee Experience, Diversity & Inclusion Lead, Fujitsu EMEIA
Collaboration with schools
Inspiration can’t be bought or acquired – the seeds are sown at a young age. But not enough young people, and especially women, are aware of the opportunities a career in technology presents. The technology industry isn’t what it was ten or 15 years ago – it’s moved out of the shadows to become a hotbed for innovation and experimentation.
It’s great to see a steady uptake in the number of girls choosing to study STEM subjects at A-Level. A huge part of this is down to having role models to look up to – but access to these role models isn’t always easy for some students. As business leaders, we need to work more collaboratively with schools and parents to tackle the age-old assumption that maths and STEM subjects are the reserve of men.
Turning to the workplace, businesses also need to take flexible working more seriously. As a small business, we need to be able to adapt to the push and pull from clients around the world. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a number of roles as part of my job, from operations to marketing and new business. A career in technology doesn’t mean you’ll be confined to one discipline. Far from it, from sales to marketing and HR; there are plenty of roles in technology that don’t necessarily require a maths or engineering degree – the most important requirement is an eagerness to learn.
Jayne Stone, Chief Operations Officer, Vuealta
I am lucky in that I have always been inspired by technology and the way it changes lives. That’s what encouraged me to pursue the career I am in now. But the perception that IT and other STEM industries are male-orientated is still prevalent and that’s what needs to change.
Encouraging more females into STEM roles starts from a young age—going into schools and showing the younger generation how accessible and fun a career in technology can really be.
Being a woman in STEM doesn’t bar you from success in or outside of your career. Working in technology has enabled me to achieve things I never thought possible—supporting me in purchasing my first powerboat and empowering me to become the first ever female Offshore World powerboat champion.
For those women who do choose a career in STEM, know and retain your personal brand identity. Know what you bring to your team, be proactive and show your colleagues what you can do. It’s an unfortunate fact that, until you show that you are tenacious and have a can-do attitude, many will perceive you as a woman in a man’s world. Show those people up and teach them who you really are.
Jackie Shelton, Regional VP UKI at Anaplan
You can read celebrating Ada Lovelace 2018 – part one here