Monday, 16 April 2012

Ada Lovelace Colloquium 2012

On 12th April, I went to the BCS Women Ada Lovelace Colloquium for the first time, which is a yearly national event for women undergraduate and masters students in computing. This year's event was held at the University of Bath. Before I went, I'd chatted to one of our male members of staff. I described where I was going and he'd said "Isn't that a bit sexist?" If only! If only it were a level playing field for women in computer science. Most undergrad compsci courses in the UK run at about 10% females, 90% males. If I go to a compsci conference my gender will be hugely in the minority, at or below 10%. At this year's Turing Centenary Conference only 1 out of the 19 invited speakers will be women. The Lovelace Colloquium reverses that gender ratio - there were men in attendance, and they were welcomed, but they were the ones in the minority. And all the speakers were female.

But other than the gender ratio, it looked and felt just like any other academic conference and the standard of work was very high. There were a mix of motivational talks and technical talks, and an excellent poster session. I was one of the judges for the masters poster competition and it was a really difficult decision. Each of the poster presenters was able to tell us in enthusiastic detail about their work and ideas, and several of them had brought along demos. We eventually awarded that prize to a poster from Wuraola Jinadu from Robert Gordon Uni in Aberdeen who was creating an iPad app for designing UML diagrams.