Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It aims to increase and normalise the profile of women in STEM, in turn, letting young girls know that a STEM career could be an option for them.

Since 2015, Verify Recruitment have been running a technology outreach initiative for TY, 5th and 6th year secondary school students across Ireland.

The Ada Lovelace Initiative organises for female role models in the tech industry to visit schools to offer a glimpse into what it is like to work in technology, as otherwise they may not have access to subjects like engineering or exposure to the world of STEM. Volunteer role models from local companies who have a commitment to inclusivity and diversity demonstrate to students the scope of opportunity within the tech industry.

The aim is to encourage and inspire young females to consider a STEM course or a career in tech. As Mary-Kate Ryan, Head of People Ops EMEA at Qualtrics said; “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” Since the initiative began, we are proud to say that we, with the help and participation of our fantastic role models, have reached over 6,000 students across the country.

For the past two years, we have expanded the initiative to include celebrating the annual Ada Lovelace Day in October through interactive events bringing schools to visit some of the offices of Dublin’s tech scene and strive to spark the idea that “tech could be for you too!” 

55 students from 3 Dublin schools enjoying Ada Lovelace Day 2018 at Qualtrics 

In 2018, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ada Lovelace Day, we partnered with Qualtrics to organise for 60 students from schools around Dublin to visit Qualtrics’ EMEA HQ where the Qualtrics team held panel discussions, quizzes, and team building activities to highlight the potential within the students themselves and the possibilities for them in STEM, encouraging them to be open to it as a potential path for their future. Giving the students the chance to participate in panel discussions about their attitudes to science, technology, engineering and maths opened everyone’s eyes to the clear negative stigmas that exist in the field which majorly contribute to the lack of gender diversity in STEM.

A year later in 2019, we were delighted to broaden the horizon and expand the celebrations across two continents to include Dublin and Utah schools and role models. In Dublin, an on-site visit of the local students and teachers saw panel discussions, career quizzes, and interactive games take place to open up the students’ minds to STEM being for them.

Senior cycle students Kitti, Chloe and Aaishah from Loreto College Crumlin attending Ada Lovelace Day 2019 hosted by Qualtrics

While over the water in Provo, Utah, young women from across Nebo School District were able to experience a unique celebration of Ada Lovelace Day at Qualtrics. The day’s activities included a tour of the Qualtrics Provo offices, meeting the Qualtrics team, break out leadership sessions and an engaging panel discussion with women leaders in STEM as part of the Women’s Leadership Development at Qualtrics, students were invited to educate themselves in career opportunities and growth for women in tech fields. 

Jessica, Chelsea and Bel of Qualtrics holding a discussion panel as part of the 2019 Ada Lovelace Day events at Qualtrics Utah.

The circumstances of this year have brought their own barriers since we no longer had the option of onsite visits, but we did not what to let that stop us from celebrating the day and Ada Lovelace, a true trailblazer and inspiration to women in tech, then and now.

For 2020’s Ada Lovelace Day, we will be sharing a special video of an array of female tech role models sharing their story and explaining why “tech could be for you too!”. By allowing young girls to see that people working in tech don’t match the stigmas, and may even share the same hobby, interest or passion them, whether that’s playing basketball or hanging out with friends, we hope that this will offer encouragement and inspire them to consider a STEM course or a career in tech. 

Cathal Grogan, Verify Recruitment’s Managing Director stated “By improving the information channels available to directly inspire girls to consider careers in this field, The Ada Lovelace Initiative delivers authentic career inspiration which can be the trigger for students to explore opportunities in technology that would previously have seemed inaccessible.” 

We are excited to continue driving STEM opportunities for women in Ireland and play our part in closing the prevalent gender gap in the field. It is proven that diversity benefits all involved, so let’s work towards that.