Ada Lovelace Day, held the second Tuesday in October every year, is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Ada Lovelace Day aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and to highlight role models who will encourage girls to explore STEM careers and to support women already working in STEM.
Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) is often referred to as the ‘first computer programmer’ and her work inspired Alan Turing’s work on the first modern computers in the 1940s.
Please join us in celebrating all Women in STEM on Ada Lovelace Day 2022!
To celebrate Ada Lovelace Day we asked female role models from Queen's and industry why they chose a career in STEM and to highlight their career journey.
"I recently joined Ioana Latu as SWAN Co-Champion in the School of Psychology. Despite increasing social diversity and opportunities to meet people from a range of different backgrounds, we live in a society where prejudice, discrimination in inequity are still major problems. I became interested in a career in STEM because I wanted to better understand how we can tackle these persistent societal challenges, and I felt that a great way of doing this could be through the development and systematic evaluation of innovative interventions that involve encouraging positive intergroup experiences. My research involves designing and carrying out surveys and experiments, and using these social scientific methods, my colleagues and I are able to develop more effective approaches to promoting positive intergroup relations."
"I have always had an interest in art and science, I was either doodling or solving Maths problems as a teenager. For me creativity and Maths go hand in hand. I studied Mathematics at Somerville College, Oxford, then worked in the charity sector for twelve years, including writing horoscopes for a feminist magazine. I took a career break to study for an MSc Computing and Information Systems, I was convinced that I was set for a career in software development. My supervisor was interested in protein structure prediction, so this was an opportunity to combine my mathematics and computing and apply it to an area that was both interesting and useful. Having worked in the voluntary sector, I was used to a job that was vocational where you could see the results of your work at first hand. Working in bioinformatics was the scientific equivalent for me. Mathematics underpins so much of nature’s patterns, eg the link between knot theory and DNA modelling. Moving from predicting the three-dimensional structure of a protein to predicting which patients will respond to a treatment felt like a natural step to me."
"I enjoyed studying sciences and languages at GCSE, subsequently choosing Biology, Chemistry and Physics for A-levels. My careers teacher was supportive although later commented to my mother at a parent-teacher meeting for a younger sibling that it was ‘such a waste’ that I did not continue with languages. I was particularly drawn to life sciences and went on to study Biomedical Science at university – a fantastic course! My final year project was a transformative experience - the opportunity to carry out laboratory-based research consolidated my STEM-interests, and I then completed a PhD in Physiology. I am passionate about providing opportunities for students to get into a lab for hands-on STEM research experience. I am equally committed to supporting/mentoring women in STEM academic careers. If you are interested in a STEM-career, my advice is to spend a few weeks in a research laboratory. That advice comes with a friendly warning – you might never get away…"
"I am a pharmacist with a PhD in Nanomedicine and Drug Delivery. Following graduation, I was determined to pursue a career in science, as this field has always attracted me. Part of my current research is to explore new ways to treat cancer by developing tiny containers (nanomedicine) that deliver a wide range of therapeutic agents, to reduce their side effects and increase their targeting of cancer tissues. The beauty of this field relies on its exciting multidisciplinary nature and translational impact to benefit our society. As an academic, I have been privileged to educate and inspire our young generations, besides training our future scientists to perform cutting-edge research."
"There are many reasons why I was attracted to Architecture as a career. I always loved problem solving, I was logical thinker and creative thinker. I believed the quality of the environment around us can affect our lives, our emotions, and our wellbeing. As an Architect I feel privileged to be able design buildings for communities and research how design contributes to community interaction."
"Although some may not perceive Psychology as a science, it is essentially the scientific study of people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. I was first drawn to do psychology research because I was (and still am) in awe of the fact that we can answer fundamental questions about how people think, feel, and behave, using the scientific method. Manipulating psychological variables in experimental designs, quantifying psychological outcomes, analysing the data and finding answers to these questions have never stopped fascinating me. I was also drawn to the fact that I can research the topics that I find to be personally and societally relevant - such as gender bias. While one study won't change the world, I hope to contribute to change in the way we understand and accept diversity."
"I don’t think that I consciously chose a STEM career, but I found that I really liked Maths, Physics and Chemistry at school. There were a few students who seemed to understand things quicker, but I enjoyed wrestling with a problem until I could understand it deeply and provide a solution to a problem or question. The journey in understanding something was the best bit, although I often didn’t appreciate that until I reached the finish line and could present an answer or solution. In sixth form a group of us took part in the Frost-Smith memorial lecture competition at Queen’s University and we won. That was the first time I thought about engineering as a career. Unfortunately, I was influenced by people around me and their advice around a “good career for a woman” and I started a degree in Optometry. I realised after a few months it was not for me. I managed to beg my way on to a degree programme in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, a term late! After a placement year in an engineering company that specialised in software solutions and a final year project which involved programming I started to pivot towards the software side of engineering. I completed postgraduate studies in Computer Science and have been programming and problem-solving ever since. These days, as a lecturer, I love supporting students on their journey into the amazing, diverse and exciting world of Engineering and Science."
"I always had a natural ability for maths, but I first realised my love for it when studying for my GCSEs. Maths revision was a respite from all the other mundane and boring revision, it was the one subject I would be excited to revise. I loved how practice made perfect when it comes to Maths. The feeling of having a problem and knowing you had solved it, was addictive to me. From then on, I knew my career was always going to involve Maths in some shape or form. Yet I found picking a university degree at the age of 18 very daunting, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I did however know it would be a career in STEM so a Maths degree at QUB seemed like the natural choice, while keeping as many doors open as I could. It was during this degree, that I discovered a love for Statistics, and in particular data analysis in the practical computer classes. Finally, I found a career path that was perfect for me – data analytics. A career I didn’t even know existed at the age of 18 and now a real passion of mine. Since graduating, I have worked on the NI Census as a Statistician and now as a Data Analyst for the QGI team at Queen’s. I love what I do, and I am so excited to see where my career path will lead to in the future. I feel that with a STEM career, the opportunities are endless!"
The School of Maths and Physics and undergraduate Physics and Maths Society are hosting an Ada Lovelace Day event to celebrate women and non-binary in STEAM.