Building gender balance in computing science

Date posted

29 September 2021


The second Ada Scotland Festival will run from October 11 – 21st, with an array of live online events, activities, competitions.

Ada Scotland is a registered charity, growing out of a collaboration between Edinburgh Napier, University of Glasgow, and dressCode, a non-profit charity founded with the aim of addressing the gender gap in computing science.

Its aims are

- to celebrate women in tech

- encourage women and girls into studying computing and careers in digital

- bring together everyone working to improve the gender balance in computing in Scotland

Young girl in blue t shirt with alongside text The Ada Scotland Festival is Back

Less than 20 per cent of the technology sector is comprised of women. This trend is set to worsen in the coming years given that girls at school have steadily occupied a lower proportion of places in computing science classes.

Since 2001, the number of girls studying computing at school in Scotland has fallen from 9,825 to 1,895. The Ada Scotland Festival aims to provide young women and girls with role models in the industry, whilst establishing a network of partners working towards this same goal.

Ada Lovelace, an English mathematician and an associate of Charles Babbage, for whose prototype of a digital computer she created a program, has been called the first computer programmer.

Ada lived in the 19th century and though she died at an early age, her contributions were fundamental in progressing society towards the level of technological advancement seen today. Her legacy has inspired the creation of the Ada Scotland Festival. Honouring Ada’s contribution provides a historical role model for young women and girls considering a career in technology.

The festival aims to have activities and events for girls and women of all ages and they’re all free .

Dr Ella Taylor-Smith, co-founder of Ada.Scot, and her colleagues in Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Computing Education Research, are working on projects aiming to improve the gender balance in Computing: there’s a really wide array of roles in tech and women can be empowered by these careers. 

Improving representation throughout the technology sector benefits all of us: “It’s clear that technology needs to be designed and made by women, as well as men, and also people from diverse backgrounds, both ethnic and economic. Otherwise, the tech isn’t good enough.”

She added: “The list of partners reflects one of the festival’s goals: to bring together people working in this area. Lots of partners have enthusiasm, resources, and experience. We want to use that – not compete.” 

Throughout the week, attendees engage in workshops, talks, Q&As, and competitions which give them an insight into what it is like to work in Computing Science and the range of career paths available to them.

The festival provides a space for collaborators to engage with one another, bringing together a vast range of partners from academia, industry, government and the third sector.

Planned events from Edinburgh Napier include:

School of Computing, Engineering & the Built Environment

According to the Research Excellence Framework in 2021, we are the number one Scottish Modern University for research in Computer Science & Informatics, Engineering and for Architecture, Built Environment and Planning.