October 13th was a special day across the world for the STEM industry; it was International Ada Lovelace Day. ALD began in 2009 to celebrate the achievements of women in STEM in an effort to increase the visibility of female professionals in this sector. It was also a special day for The Ada Lovelace Initiative at Verify – we had the opportunity to celebrate ALD with the technology community in Dublin.

On the evening of 13th of October – Ada Lovelace Day 2015, TripAdvisor Ireland kindly hosted a special get together for technology professionals at their engineering hub in Dublin 2. To mark the special occasion of Ada Lovelace Day, guests heard from two special speakers from STEM sector in Ireland, who told their own stories in the spirit of Ada Lovelace Day & celebrating the achievements of women in STEM. Our first special guest was Amanda Hay from TripAdvisor Ireland. Amanda told the guests about her journey into technology and her experience as a role model with the Ada Lovelace Initiative.

Amanda-Hay-Tripadvisor

On the topic of role models, Amanda Hay mentioned the influence of her mother in regards to her opinion of STEM subjects. Her mother studied Maths and Psychics at college which she feels may have kept her from fearing Mathematics in her school years. She also spoke of growing up in Hong Kong and moving on to study both Computer Science and Philosophy at Tufts University in the US. Amanda referenced her interest in thinking about answers to life’s big questions and also her passion for solving problems. Completing her third visit for The Ada Lovelace Initiative last week, Amanda has volunteered her time to speak to three groups of pupils at Mount Carmel Secondary School in Dublin City Centre this year, hoping to motivate some of the young women to consider a career in technology for themselves.

I could tell there were some girls who were very interested. The key is the find the few who might start to think about this as a future job. My goal was to show them that there are these jobs out there. – Amanda Hay – ALD Dublin 2015

In Ireland only 25% of the STEM sector consists of female employees. The Ada Lovelace Initiative was set up to address one of the reasons so few females choose a career in technology compared to their male counterparts; a lack of access or opportunity for some students to speak to female role models working in the STEM sector.To help change this imbalance, we are working with the technology community in Ireland to connect female professionals working in technology with Transition Year secondary school students for one hour once a year each.

With regards to the effect of role models and having access to ‘someone like you’ in your younger years, Rhona Togher from Restored Hearing made the point that she found she had a lot in common with CTO and Co-Founder of Restored Hearing, Eimear O’ Carroll when they were Transition Year pupils themselves.  Rhona Togher, the CEO of Restored Hearing told the guests of The Ada Lovelace Initiative gathering that her story started with programming a robot with her colleague and friend Eimear in Transition Year, and continuing to work together over the years, until they set up their unique products for tinnitus at Restored Hearing.

Restored Hearing aim to ‘rid the world of avoidable hearing damage’, with products sold worldwide for both treatment and prevention. It is estimated that there are over 300 million tinnitus sufferers worldwide, and the Restored Hearing solutions are available as online streams to access therapy from all over the world.

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On behalf of Verify Recruitment, we were able to thank the voluntary role models present for their help with The Ada Lovelace Initiative so far, with role models from over 75 companies signed up to visit a secondary school near them this year! With  goal of reaching 5000 pupils with a technology role model this year, the success of this initiative depends on the participation of role models across the country. We told the guests of the main message we have for pupils nationwide:

Many of you believe a career in technology is simply not an option for you. We are here to suggest otherwise. – The Ada Lovelace Initiative – ALD  Dublin 2015

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Cathal Grogan & Róisín Healy – Verify Recruitment – The Ada Lovelace Initiative 2015

In our blog post earlier this week, we mentioned some of our role models who went out and visited pupils for the last week to tell their stories. We would like to also mention the fantastic role models that were working hard to encourage pupils at school this week too, Paula Hatch of Udemy and Ursula Clarke Everett of the CoderDojo Foundation who both visited Loreto Abbey Transition Year pupils in Dalkey.

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If you would like to learn more about The Ada Lovelace Initiative, please visit our A.L.I page. We are looking for role models from every county, if you would like more information about visiting a school on our waiting list, please fill out our form here and we will be in touch shortly. On Twitter? Follow @VerifyCommunity for more community updates and tag us with #alimystory