Ada Lovelace was a 19th-century mathematician and writer, who worked to create and program the world’s first computer. Today, she is still celebrated as a pioneer in science and technology, and a role model for women working in STEM fields.As an all-female team, RE•WORK are strong advocates on supporting women in technology and science, so we celebrated Ada Lovelace Day 2016 by talking to leading women in STEM, to learn more about how we can all work to make science and technology industries more inclusive. How can more women be encouraged to work in these fields?
Alaina Percival is CEO & Board Chair of Women Who Code, a global nonprofit dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers, serving over 50,000 women in 20 countries across the globe. Read on for insights from Alaina on future tech, ensuring equality in STEM, and advice for newcomers to technology.
What do you find exciting about your current role?
The fact that I am able to make a real difference in people's lives. Through Women Who Code our members have found jobs, received promotions, given talks, given interviews, and received the education they needed to level up in their careers. We're a community of over 80,000 tech professionals around the world and through our collective efforts we are changing the industry, making it more inclusive and diverse, and having a real impact on the people who work within it.
What areas of technology do you think will have the biggest breakthroughs in the next 5 years?
I think the most important thing that will take place over the next 5 years is that every industry will continue to move towards being a tech industry. Technology permeates our lives, and it is being employed more every year by businesses and organizations that are leveraging its power in order to become more efficient, dynamic, and effective.
Which emerging technologies do you think will have the biggest impact on your work?
Women Who Code works to support engineers around the world in their careers through education, networking, and advocacy. Communication technology is particularly important to that goal, as it allows us to more effectively convey our message, while also working with Networks and members in cities around the globe.
What can we do to ensure equality in STEM fields?
It's important to change the perception that people have about STEM. There isn't just a single demographic working in these fields, they are populated with a diverse array of professionals that are doing incredible work every day. By shifting the conversation to include recognition of people in STEM from every background we can naturally promote equality and inclusion, and banish some of the old ideas that have traditionally limited those industries.
How can we inspire and encourage more women and girls to become involved in STEM fields?
We need to promote the accomplishments of a more diverse array of people working in STEM. Women will often avoid going into one of those fields because they see them as being male dominated, and even antagonistic towards them. We need to show that there are strong leaders from every background working in STEM. By recognizing the accomplishments of today's role models, we can inspire the next generation to succeed.
What advice would you give to someone starting a career in technology?
Believe in yourself and follow your dreams. With hard work, dedication, and perseverance you can accomplish anything.
Check out our Women in Tech & Science series for more Q&As.
Are you working in emerging areas of science and technology, or know of someone who is? Suggest women in STEM fields to speak at a RE•WORK event here.