Today is a special day as it’s the 10th Ada Lovelace Day – a day to recognise, champion and celebrate the role of women in science, technology and engineering around the world. We want to take a moment to acknowledge what this means here in the UK. With only 17 per cent of the UK tech workforce in 2017 being women, there is a lot more work to do to get more women in to tech. However, there is perhaps some good news. It appears that while the number of women in IT courses remains low, AI focused courses have around 28 per cent female participation. This is could be a sign that the excitement around the UK’s AI future could hold the key to encouraging more women into computing. Something that will be vital for ensuring that AI systems are not being designed with unintentional gender or ethnic biases built in.
And now to give you a bit of background on the trailblazer herself. Why do we take time to remember Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace? Born in 1815, Ada Lovelace was a mathematician who worked alongside the inventor of the Analytic Engine, Charles Babbage. Often referred to as the world first computer programmer, Lovelace recognised the potential of machines to make calculations. The work of Lovelace has provided inspiration to Alan Turing’s work in computing and data analytics and therefore as having laid the computing foundations for our machine learning and AI future which we are only just beginning to realise. The opportunities offered by digital technologies including data analytics, Internet of Things, cloud computing which techUK will be exploring next week at its flagship Supercharging the Digital Economy event in Manchester can therefore be traced back to Lovelace.
So today, as we celebrate Ada Lovelace and her achievements, we must remember that today is not just about recognising the past but more importantly looking to the future. techUK is proud to support Ada Lovelace Day as a way to encourage more women to consider pursuing a successful career in the tech industry. Throughout the year techUK are working hard to help move the dial through the work of our Skills and Diversity Council.
To find out more about techUK’s work in this key area and how to get involved, please get in touch.
Read techUK deputy CEO, Antony Walker's blog on the importance in celebrating Ada Lovelace Day.