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Highlights from Ada Lovelace Day 2016

Portrait of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace (1848): considered to be the first computer programmer.

By James Dacey

Today is Ada Lovelace Day (ALD), a day to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Named after the 19th-century polymath Ada Lovelace, the annual initiative also seeks to engage with the challenges of attracting more women into STEM careers and supporting career development. Now in its eighth year, the day includes a number of events and online activities.

The day will culminate in a few hours with Ada Lovelace Day Live!, a “science cabaret” event at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London (18:30–21:30, tickets still available). In what promises to be “an entertaining evening of geekery, comedy and music”, the all-female line-up includes several scientists from the physical sciences. Among them is Sheila Kanani, a planetary physicist and science comedian who is the education, outreach and diversity officer for the Royal Astronomical Society in London.

Also among the performers is Sara Santos, founder of “Maths Busking”, an organization that turns mathematical principles into street performances. Think along the lines of the street magicians Dynamite or Troy, but where the maths itself is the source of the entertainment. The evening’s compère is the comedy writer and performer Helen Keen, who has a wealth of experience presenting science-related content on the radio and at festivals.

In addition to the London show, various independent events are taking place across the world, many of which are listed on the ALD website. As a keen cyclist, I like the sound of the Women-in-STEM-History Bike Ride in Cambridge, Massachusetts – an eight-mile loop taking in 10 key locations including Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Other events include a women-in-science quiz at Queen’s University Belfast, and if you happen to be in Tasmania you should pop along to the Tassie Girl Geek Coffees group where they are promising cakes to anyone willing to come and share their experiences!

There’s a lot happening online too. You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #ALD16. Erin Winick, CEO of the science-inspired fashion blog Sci Chic, has put together a list of recommended blogs written by women in STEM. Meanwhile Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona is running Wisibilízalas, a contest to encourage high-school students to write about women in science and technology.

So get out there, get involved and make some noise today about women in STEM both online and offline.

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