3 Bristol-Based Women Working to Change the Face of STEM
March 11th 2022

Today marks Ada Lovelace day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths). It is in recognition of the world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace.

Never fully recognised in her lifetime, Lovelace’s work was revolutionary. Almost a century after it was first published, her work was finally understood to be the first computer algorithm.

As of last year, only 25% of all UK roles in STEM were held by women.

Increasing the profile of women in STEM and creating role models in the industry is crucial in encouraging the next generation.

So, we have taken this opportunity to highlight some of the most influential women working to change the face of STEM in Bristol.

Dr Zara Nanu

CEO and Co- Founder of Gapsquare, Dr Zara Nanu is an advocate for workplace gender equality and fair pay.

In 2017, after hearing the World Economic Forum’s prediction that it would take 217 years before the gender pay gap will close, Zara took her campaigning experience and founded Gapsquare.

Using statistical analysis, Gapsquare identifies employee demographics (including gender, ethnicity, disability, and sexual orientation) and works to determine the cause of pay gaps, providing actionable insights to close existing pay gaps.

Having grown up in Moldova, Zara was caught off guard by western attitudes to gender equality after moving to Bristol.

In her early career she worked with a female trafficking prevention program, and after seeing women trapped in poverty due to working minimum wage sweatshop jobs, she set out on her mission to close the gender pay gap and highlight gender disparity in a male-dominated world.

Zara shares her expertise around the world and uses AI and data science to diversify the work force by placing the responsibility of equality and diversity in the hands of the employers.

Dr Becky Sage

Former CEO of Interactive Scientific (iSci) and current Director of Acceleration, Dr Becky Sage understands the importance of starting STEM education early for all children.

Interactive Scientific was set up with a grant from the Arts Council to develop ‘dance room spectroscopy’, enabling dancers to interact with virtual particles in an interactive space. Becky first joined in 2014, drawn in by the opportunity to create change in the way science is taught.

Becky was crucial in the growth and development of iSci and in securing funding. Since it was founded, iSci has worked to develop immersive web-based technology used for education. By connecting with schools helping to bring science to life, iSci are engaging kids to connect with science and spark the interest to pursue a career in STEM.

As both an undergrad and a postgrad student, Becky had only male teachers, and upon winning the Women in Innovation award in 2016, for the first time, she found herself surrounded by a group of female peers with similar experiences.

Since then, she has been working to create a profitable businesses model and investing the profits back in to create an impact across the education system.

Dr Sage now works at EDUCATE, an education technology company working to improve the quality of edtech services.

The pandemic was a stark reminder that as a society we are at the mercy of mother nature. From climate change to famines, we need to place time and resources into developing a diverse workforce to build a sustainable future.

Antonia Forster

Senior XR Technical Specialist for Industry at Unity Technologies, Antonia is a science communicator, a biologist and a self-taught programmer who works in AR, VR and haptics.

Antonia is an advocate for Women in STEM and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community. Her TEDtalk on polyamory in nature works to challenge the ideals that people use to justify discrimination against others.

Known for her talks combining rap and scientific data to campaign for inclusion and diversity in the workplace, she spoke yesterday at the Bristol Tech Festival, continuing the data-driven discussion around the gender gap.

It is so important to continue the fight to make education accessible for all kids no matter their background or identity, and we can do this by listening to women across all industries like Nanu, Sage and Forster, who are creating technology to empower young women at the start of their careers.

Antonia Forster said it best, ‘you have two choices: change yourself, or change the world.’

It has been over 160 years since Ada Lovelace lived, but her legacy will continue to impact the life and work of women in STEM for years to come.

We hope that Bristol creates many future role models to build on the success of these three, and lead the way in changing the face of tech.

We’re always keen to learn more about how we support diversity in technology. If you have ideas, you’d like to discuss with us or think we can help you please get in touch.

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