Ada Lovelace Day

Inspiring women know Ada’s List is awesome

By Anjali Ramachandran 10 October 2017
Ada Lovelace Day. Pic: CC
Summary

Are you on Ada's List?

On Ada Lovelace Day, The Memo invites Anjali Ramachandran to explain why her community Ada’s List needs to exist. 


Ada’s List was started by my friends Merici Vinton, Nicki Sprinz, Rosa Birch and myself four years ago on Ada Lovelace Day.

The goal was to create a safe space in the UK for women and non-binary people who identify as women in tech to find support, advice and information on their industry, and to make the tech industry a better place for people like us – inspired by TechLady Mafia, which Merici had co-founded in the US.

Ada’s List is now global, and has nearly 5,000 members.

The need for Ada’s List is borne out by the stats: only 16% of undergraduates on computer science courses in the UK and 17% in the US are female.

But equally important are the realities of the gender pay gap, the lack of mentorship and sponsorship for women at work, unfriendly work environments (often including instances of harassment, which we have seen multiple instances of in Silicon Valley lately), and the lack of women at leadership and board levels.

This means organisations are not diverse, and therefore are less successful and less representative of the population – which is a huge problem for individuals and the economy as a whole.

Why join?

Women in tech should join Ada’s List if they believe in changing the tech industry for the better. This could be at individual, workplace or industry level (read our Agenda!).

But in short, they should join Ada’s List if they want to be part of an email-based community (yes there are a lot of emails!) where they can talk off the record about topics related to their industry, share jobs, find women to speak at their events or feature in articles, get support or informal mentoring, and share interesting tech-related events.

I hope Ada’s List helps women feel empowered. I also hope it makes them feel more confident and supported, and less lonely.

Ultimately, we’d love to see women empowered to the point that they get to senior leadership or board level at companies, where they can truly influence policy internally and externally in the industry.

It remains important to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day today because the more female role models there are for women entering the industry and those already in it, the more we’ll see girls getting into the industry and, hopefully, the less will drop out.

Meet five fantastic women already signed up to and shaping the Ada’s List community today…

Emem Rita Usanga

@ememrusanga

Usanga is founder of Bnkability Africa, a tech platform that solves the problem of sourcing bankable African infrastructure projects.

It automates the creation of full project documentation, then matches each project to relevant investors. As someone who writes about projects in emerging markets and who has lived in one for a large part of her life, I think this is a fascinating problem to solve.

Dee Saigal and Leonie Van Der Linde

@EraseAllKittens

Saigal and Linde built Erase All Kittens, a story-driven coding game that provides children with knowledge of both computational thinking and professional coding languages, to effectively prepare them for 21st Century degrees and careers.

They recently won the ‘Women and Tech’ and ‘Arts & Culture’ awards of the MIT Solve competition and have some great traction in getting girls inspired at school to solve technology problems.

Shefali Roy

@ShefaliRoy

Roy is the Chief Operating Officer of TrueLayer, a digital finance business. She’s also on the Ada’s List board, and was most recently Chief Compliance Officer (Europe) at Stripe, with experience at Apple, Christie’s and Goldman Sachs.

She’s got the great breadth of knowledge that young businesses need to operate profitably, and is very committed to growing the number of women in tech.

Laura Willoughby MBE

@lcwilloughby

Willoughby is the founder of Club Soda, a movement to help people change their drinking habits.

Behavioural change is a really hard problem to solve, especially when it’s around something like drinking – which people don’t talk about much in this industry. Laura also launched the Mindful Drinking Festival in the UK.

Sara Allen

@Furtherandmore

Allen used to be a senior civil servant and is now the founder of Further&More, a startup that advocates job-sharing as a way for people in senior roles to achieve real work-life balance.

This is an important problem in my opinion because too many companies focus on trying to get people to work chained to a desk the whole day, when they really don’t need to if they use technology (and that’s most companies today).

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

@iotwatch

Alex is the Founder of Good Night Lamp, a set of connected lamps – it’s a lovely product; when one turns on, the other one does too no matter where in the world it is.

Alex is at the forefront of work around the internet of things; she is currently working on developing the IOTMARK, a global project to develop an open #iotcertification mark.

She’s also the organiser of the IOT London meetup, which she started back in 2011. It is now the second biggest meetup in the world on this subject. She has amazing energy and I’m proud to call her a friend.

Sign up to Ada’s List today.