Friday, 5 April 2013

Ada Lovelace Colloquium 2013

Dr Julie Greensmith introduces the 2013 Lovelace Colloquium in Nottingham
Yesterday I attended the 2013 Lovelace Colloquium. This a conference aimed at women undergraduates and MSc students in computing, and judging by the quality of the posters made by the attendees we certainly have a lot of fantastic women computing undergraduates in the UK.

When I was at school I was the only female in all of my A-level classes except Computing, where I was one of 2. On my undergrad degree, there was one other woman in my year group. I ended up deliberately joining an aerobics class in an attempt to meet other women. Throughout my computing career, women have been in a substantial minority. So how refreshing it is to go to Lovelace, and find so many enthusiastic technical women, all in one place. And how amazing it is that they are undergraduates, and will be going on to do great things in the future.

The conference is sponsored by several companies and organisations (Google, FDM, CA, EMC, HEA) who all recognise the opportunity of chatting to these students, and want to suggest their companies as career options. 

There were talks about ontologies, careers, artificial immune systems, computer vision and what it's like to work as a developer at Google. And there were plenty of networking opportunities, and the students clearly made the most of them. The support is good too - for example, when one student described her poor industrial year experience with a company that gave her secretarial work while the male placement students got the technical work, the whole audience was able to reassure her that this wasn't normal or right and she shouldn't let it put her off trying again for a computing career. But the highlight of the day is the poster session, which is where the students get to show off their work and enthusiasm, and win prizes of up to £500.

If you haven't yet been to this conference, as a student, an IT professional, an academic member of staff, a self employed consultant, or someone thinking about changing their career to computing, then I can't recommend it highly enough. The positive feeling you get from being part of it is huge.

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