Women in STEM celebrated for Ada Lovelace Day

10845Women in the Faculty of Science are being celebrated today as part of Ada Lovelace Day – a national celebration aimed at raising the profile of women working in STEM subjects across the globe.

Often described as the world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace was a leading 19th century mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron. She left a lasting legacy as a role model for women around the world.

At the University of Sheffield, eminent female academics are also having a significant impact on the world we live in, using their research expertise to tackle issues with a global reach, from food and energy sustainability, to advanced manufacturing and research into human health and disease. Examples from the Faculty of Science include:

  • Professor Elizabeth Winstanley: An academic in the School of Mathematics and Statistics, Elizabeth’s research explores areas such as black holes and quantum field theory in curved space, as well as black holes at the Large Hadron Collider and what neutrinos can tell us about quantum gravity. Her work provides a useful bridge between the disciplines of mathematics and physics.
  • Professor Gillian Gehring: A physicist, Gillian studies magnetism, growing magnetic thin films and exploring magnetic and optical properties. Gillian’s work to create new films that are both magnetic and semiconducting has the potential to generate a new kind of computer where information storage and data processing are combined in one material.

The University has taken steps to ensure a positive working environment for women involved in STEM subjects, and female staff across all faculties are provided with significant support through the creation of a Women’s Network – Women@TUoS NET.

Established in 2012, Women@TUoS NET supports female staff in their career development through a variety of different events, providing informal mentoring and networking opportunities, access to a range of role models, a forum for discussion and a unified voice to help raise issues and address the career challenges women face.

The Network serves as an advocate for female recruitment, retention and progression, including working in collaboration across the University to implement the Athena SWAN Bronze action plan – evidence of the University’s commitment to gender equality and career progression for women. Other initiatives for University women include a photographic exhibition of successful females from across the University, with Heads of Department understanding that the attraction and retention of female talent is a high priority.

Dr Rhonda Snook, chair of the Women@TUoS NETwork and an academic in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: “The progression of female academics is an important element of creating a University culture that is inclusive at all levels. We have been working with our Equality and Diversity Board, and with stakeholders from across and outside of the University, to develop equality objectives that will transform our approach to inclusion, and ensure everybody feels valued and supported.

“Ada Lovelace was a role model to women around the world so it is only fitting we celebrate today’s stars in science, technology, engineering and maths and the impact they are having on the world we live in.”

The Guardian newspaper is marking Ada Lovelace Day in its own way, collecting photos and stories from women working in STEM subjects around the world. At the University of Sheffield, contributions have come from Professor Gehring, Professor Julie Gray from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and Professor Jane Grasby from the Department of Chemistry, who also chairs the Faculty of Science Equality and Diversity Committee.

Find out more about equality and diversity in the Faculty of Science

Browse The Guardian’s case studies

Read the full story at www.sheffield.ac.uk/news