Could the Girl Guides be nurturing the next Ada Lovelace, or maybe they’re at home with the kids?

Kirsty Styles, October 10, 2017 2 min read

This article was originally posted on the Tech North website.

Maya Dibley could well be described as a modern-day Ada Lovelace, starting out with an early love of English Literature that took her to university, but now helping tech startups grow at Salford’s The Landing – “poetical science” was what Lovelace termed it.

But on Ada Lovelace Day, Northern Voices participant Dibley is only too aware that she’s more of an exception than a rule.

“While the tech and startup scene is booming in Manchester,” she explains, “we’re still struggling to encourage women to lead in this area, either by getting into software engineering, or by starting their own company.”

Dibley sits on the board of trustees of the Girl Guides and is supporting the more-than-100-year-old movement with the biggest ever overhaul of its badges – to ensure the skills and knowledge learned reflect the modern world – which means app design, animation and invention are all being considered for the reboot next summer.

“When we’re talking about getting young people into tech, and particularly young women, it’s all about finding the thing that they are able to relate to – be that using tech to build a fashion company, or using digital to design your own products.

“But, while we’re excited to think that the next Ada Lovelace might be a Girl Guide finding her feet in experiments, she might also be a parent stuck at home unable to see a way to her next career move,” Dibley says.

That’s why The Landing is lending its support to an 11-week Tech Returners programme hosted at the onsite Barclay’s Eagle Lab maker space, designed for people returning to work after a break, being delivered in partnership with NorthCoders and Rebecca Taylor from the Women in Tech North meetup.

“Initiatives like this, bringing together passionate members of the community alongside corporate support within a collaborative space like The Landing, are essential to bridge the gap we currently see, particularly once people start having families.”

The course is aimed at anyone trying to return to work, be that parents, long-term sick or others who want to make their way back into the workplace after a long break, and will provide coding bootcamps every Wednesday morning. There are plans to have a crèche in order to help parents access the programme.

Ultimately a space like The Landing, which Dibley manages, can help nurture the innovations that truly move our society forward, building on the legacy set out by early computer programmers like Lovelace almost 200 years ago.

Salford Royal Hospital are now using the Eagle Lab, and specifically two special 3-D printers, to ‘print’ copies of body parts from hospital CT scans, which allows surgeons to study fractures in 3D before picking up a scalpel. This saves hours (and thousands of pounds) in hospital surgery and will hopefully lead to new breakthroughs in survival rates.

Ada Lovelace didn’t survive past the age of 36, and who know what more potential she had. But thanks to the technologies she advanced, perhaps the next Ada Lovelace will.

Book Maya to speak at your event

As well as thinking a lot about all things diversity in tech, Maya is an expert in building tech clusters, startup growth, as well digital comms in the charities sector. You can see more about Maya on her profile page, or book her for a public speaking slot or media appearance today.

Startup stories, Women in tech, Manchester, North West