Women in science: following the footsteps of a pioneer

Tuesday was the fourth annual Ada Lovelace day, a day for celebrating women working in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Named after Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace – widely held to be the very first computer programmer – the event was established to help raise the profile of women in STEM careers.

With over 30,000 Tweets with the hashtag #adalovelace or #adalovelaceday and countless blog posts, the day was very much a success with thousands of people around the world recounting stories of the women in science and technology who have inspired them.

A number of projects are continuing the celebration this week; tonight sees the launch of a ScienceGrrl calendar from the team behind 2011’s GeekCalendar, which will raise funds for initiatives including Breakthrough:thegenderstereotypesproject and MissionDiscoverysummerschool aimed at getting young people – particularly girls – excited about science.

And tomorrow, a workshop being hosted by the Royal Society will round off the week with a group Wikipedia ‘editathon’ in which wiki-articles on women in science will be refreshed and expanded using the significant resource of the Royal Society’s library.

Despite some considerable progress in recent years, women still only represent 15.5% of professionals in STEM careers in the UK, an imbalance which events like Ada Lovelace day are designed to address. Follow the links below to find out about some of the other initiatives aimed at supporting women to pursue careers in STEM subjects:

WISE: an initiative of the UK Research Councils aimed at helping schools, employers and other organisations to inspire girls and to enable women to progress in STEM careers.
Athena Swan: a charter for recognising organisations’ commitment to advancing women’s careers in STEM academia
The European Commission’s Science: It’s a Girl Thing initiative
BES Mentorship Scheme: scheme pairing women in ecology careers with more experienced mentors to gain advice and guidance.

Know of other schemes? Tell us about them in the comments.