From education to employment

Ada Lovelace Day – and the legacy that she left behind – helps to remind women to push themselves

#ALD20 – Today (Tuesday 13th) is Ada Lovelace Day, a day when we celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (#STEM). 

It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models – such as Ada, one of the first ever computer programmers – who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in this industry.

Paula Jory, EMEA Messaging Supervisor at Commvault, said: 

“While there is certainly a gender gap across the technology that must still be overcome, my own experience working in the sector has been very positive. Women naturally possess many qualities and skills essential for success working in the sector – empathy, patience, multitasking and pragmatic thinking – which I think has contributed to my good experiences.

“On the other hand, perhaps a stereotypical lack of assertiveness that’s common amongst women may be holding some girls and young women back from pursuing a career in STEM. It’s days like Ada Lovelace Day – and the legacy that she left behind – that help to remind women to push themselves. In technology, you sometimes may need to assert yourself more than you are comfortable with, but it’s important to be confident in your own abilities and trust your instinct. Working in technology is very rewarding with so many new and exciting opportunities too great to miss.

“The education system fundamentally offers the same opportunities to both genders – male and female – and it is making a concerted effort to encourage more young women into STEM subjects. I believe that the reason for the gender gap is often rooted in a lack of encouragement from parents, friends, etc. Parents bear most of the responsibility to encourage our daughters to pursue interests that they are passionate about. The options are there for the taking; we just need to gently guide young women to follow their heart.”

Agata Nowakowska, AVP EMEA at Skillsoft, said:

“Women are still largely under-represented in the STEM arena and even less so in STEM leadership positions. The reality is that – even in 2020 – it’s so much more difficult for women to climb the career ladder. With persistent unconscious bias that women lack the confidence to apply for promotions or that they are simply not good enough to hold leadership positions, women have to work much harder than men to prove their ability.

“One of the major problems is the expectation level for women is much higher – especially for female leaders – and this is not just about men. Women are much tougher with each other, and we are also much tougher on ourselves. Take the job application process, for example. Research shows that women will only apply for a job when they are 95% aligned with the skills required, while men tend to be more confident in applying for roles and promotions they are less qualified for.

“This is down to a female notion of perfection: Super Mum, Super Wife, Super Worker. The image of the ‘perfect’ Super Woman who excels in all areas of life continues to set unrealistic expectations, putting pressure on women to avoid failure and holding them back in the process. If we want to see more women in STEM, we need to change the way we see women and the way women see themselves. By showcasing effective female leaders and celebrating imperfection, more of us will see that STEM is a place where women can thrive.”

Related Articles