Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day at Brighton Digital Festival 2018

Tuesday 9th October marks Ada Lovelace Day and Brighton Digital Festival is honouring the occasion with a special free event, Beyond Numbers, organised by Dr Sharon Webb and Ioann Maria at Sussex Humanities Lab.

Artwork by Ioann Maria

Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Named after Ada Lovelace (1815–1852), an English mathematician credited with being the first computer programmer, it provides an opportunity to highlight female role models in STEM fields while inspiring others to enter these industries.

Each year, Brighton Digital Festival holds events to make sure the voices of all people are heard, in order to inform the creation of a collective future that is better for everyone. This year for BDF18, Sussex Humanities Lab will host Beyond Numbers, a free event of inspiring and empowering talks that celebrate women, non-binary and transgender scientists, artists, musicians, researchers and thinkers. It’s a day to share, engage and collaborate, exploring everything from the history of women’s role in tech, to pushing gender boundaries and ‘hacktivism’. You can RSVP to the event here.

Events like this and initiatives like Ada Lovelace Day are much needed. At present, women make up only 23% of those in core STEM occupations in the UK. To commemorate this day and to help demolish this statistic, some inspiring women currently working within tech sectors, have some words of advice to share:

Cassie Evans · codebar Brighton Organiser
‘On average, men will apply for a role when they have around 60% of the criteria listed whereas most women will only apply when they meet all the requirements. At codebar we recommend that you keep this in mind when applying for jobs. Aim big!’
codebar was started out of recognition that there is a shortage of women, LGBTQ, and people belonging to underrepresented ethnic groups in tech. As part of BDF18, codebar has a free programming workshop at 68 Middle Street on 9 October 2018. For details, see here. codebar run events year-round to inspire and support women.
Rifa Thorpe-Tracey · Mentor and Diversity Champion at Refigure and SheSays Brighton Events Curator
‘Set a clear vision for where you want to be in all aspects of your life — your work, your personal life, your health and even write it down. Make sure every major decision you take leads you closer to your goal. Don’t worry how you will get there, part of the process is to make incremental steps towards your goal. If you don’t know where you’re going, where are you going to end up?’
For BDF18, Rifa hosted SheSays Brighton where five inspirational speakers (Bushra Burge, Gen Ashley, Liz Harrison-Flynn, Mariam Crichton, Ruth Oliver) talked about their extraordinary journeys in the digital world. SheSays Brighton run events year-round to inspire and support women.
Dr Milica Gašić · Fellow in Engineering at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge
‘If you want to study a STEM subject you should equip yourself with determination, the ability to take risks, resilience to failures, a good mentor and a spirit for adventure. It is one exciting journey so make sure you enjoy it! Be sure to have a good basis in fundamental subjects, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry or biology depending on your choice. This will enable you to pursue
research in a wide variety of topics in the future. And then the sky is the limit!’
Harley Kilburn · Brighton Digital Festival Coordinator 
‘One unifying factor from all the inspiring women I’ve met since working at Brighton Digital Festival is that everyone’s path is different — we have all entered the digital sector from such varied starting points. This is very liberating as it shows that there is no one right way, no constraints, and from this reserve of wide-ranging experiences, doors start to open. Take risks. Don’t fear the unknown’
Lizzie Hodgson · Founder and Director of ThinkNation
‘The path into tech doesn’t have to be linear. Look at what your skillset is. Ask yourself ‘what are the problems I want to help solve?’ Then embrace them with curiosity and drive. Find organisations that can help you segue into the industry where those challenges are being addressed. Be bold and reach out to the people in charge of the companies or organisations. Ask to meet or call them. Find them on LinkedIn and give them a reason to want to meet or connect with you. Do your homework because the human connection matters more than ever. Get out of your comfort zone. Find your tribe. Then find your mentor. Remember: STEM cannot flourish without creative ideas and approaches. That’s where the opportunity lies’
Concluding this year’s Brighton Digital Festival will be ThinkNation: Young People Creating Tech Solutions For Big Social Challenges on Saturday 13 October 2018, where Brighton and Hove’s young people will come together to create tech solutions to some of society’s biggest questions.

Beyond Numbers: a celebration of Ada Lovelace takes place at Sussex Humanities Lab | 2 PM-6 PM Tuesday 09 October 2018. This event is organized by Dr Sharon Webb and Ioann Maria and will feature a number of speakers. For further details and to sign-up, see here.