Unless you don’t really pay attention to computing history (which, if you’re a computer scientist, you should be incredibly ashamed of yourself. Actually, even if you’re not, you should still be ashamed), you probably already know who Ada Lovelace was. If not, she was kind of a big deal. And the first programmer, ever.
Funnily enough, she was also English.
Anyhow, The BCS Lovelace Colloquium is a 1 day event occurring in the UK every easter, which is open to undergraduate females (and males as +1s) in Computer Science. I’ve attended this year and last year because why not, and for those who worry about money for getting to these things, entering the poster competition usually gets you a scholarship to cover your expenses.
It’s also pretty nice because they move university every year, so last year was Nottingham, a short 40-60 minutes from where I live, and this year was Reading, a short hour and a half journey from Bristol, where I live now, as opposed to a lot of things that happen solidly up North or down South.
Essentially, it boils down to talks from several women from industry or from research – this year saw Anne-Marie Imafidon who runs Stemettes, Prof Rachel McCrindle a lecturer at Reading University, Dr. Jane Haslam who works in computer vision at Vicon, a company in Oxford, Rebecca Little who works in Digital Marketing and Cate Hudson who works on mobile dev at Google.
There’s also a chance to talk to the sponsors about job opportunities, lots of freebies and as mentioned, a poster competition for each year, sponsored by different companies and with prizes ranging from 200-500 pounds depending on the year and sponsor.
The talks were all pretty good – I took a lot of notes in Jane’s talk as computer vision’s a pretty interesting topic and it’s cool to see research and dev in industry, rather than just from an academia perspective, plus graphics is a big research aim at Hull. One of the overridingly good things was the python mentions – Jane mentioned how they use python for prototyping algorithms and talking to sponsors from CA, python’s becoming more and more prominent as something they want when they’re hiring (though Java is still higher priority) so I’m incredibly glad my placement is in python.
Anyway, so I entered my poster, with lots of help from Amanda from Aber uni who got it printed last minute when I knew my poster wouldn’t arrive in time, talked to some people about it (which was on the wearable workshop I ran last month), got judged aaaand a couple of hours later…found out I’d won which is pretty snazzy. I got a big android cuddly toy, a puzzlebot and a bunch of other googley things, as well as £300 from the sponsor which just so happened to be Airbus. Very happy to win and I’ll have to find something other than rent to spend my monies on!
Finally, there was a Q&A session with most of the people who’d given talks plus Sarah Lamb who started the Girl Geek Dinners initiative. Questions ranged from PhDs and research to peoples’ jobs and how they got them to the usual gender issues.
Afterwards we headed over to the bar for a CA Tech sponsored social which was quite nice: I was concious of time and driving so I only had one, and then hung around talking to people for a while about my workshop and about my necklace, then Babbage, pudsey and myself headed back up to the Shire to begin my lovely Easter break back at Godley HQ.
All in all, a lovely day and big thanks to all the sponsors and to Hannah and Amanda for making it happen, amongst other people at Reading uni :)