Programmed Inequality by Mar Hicks is a history of early computing in the UK, starting right at the beginning. The book concentrates on the experiences and conditions for women in tech, and their changing status. Much like Recoding Gender by Janet Abbate (which I read recently but didn’t, for some reason, blog about) it looks at the way the computing profession is first invented and then changes over time, influenced by and influencing women’s position in tech. The simple tale is one that’s been told a few times… 1940s-50s – to begin with, computer was a word that referred to someone who computed, probably aRead More →

BCSWomen Lovelace 2022 happened! It happened online, again, for the third time. Little did I realise that when we moved 2020 online due to threat of COVID and lockdown, I’d be chairing Lovelace 2022 online whilst actually suffering from COVID. I cannot recommend the experience of hosting a conference and being ill with COVID. From our core team of 4, one had been off with a virus in the run up and two of us had COVID so the whole event was a bit snotty. I’ve written a detailed account here: so if you want to see who won and watch the talk videosRead More →

Me, about to deliver a keynote

In the first week of April I went to my first in-person conference since all this [gestures at world] kicked off. ACCU is out of my area (it’s a programming conference, and not an academic one), and the invitation to deliver a keynote arrived back in June last year. When making a decision about whether I could do this I looked back at their past list of keynote speakers and hoo boy there’s some big names there – it’s perhaps unsurprising that they’ve had the inventor of C++ (Stroustrup) but they’ve also have the inventor of Haskell (Peyton Jones), and Python (van Rossum). Whoa. AnywayRead More →

Sometime before xmas I was working from home and there was a bang on the door (around school drop-off time). I opened it to find Clive, the curator of TEDxAberystwyth, wanting to discuss lineup, promotion and so on. I’d been heavily involved in the first one as an organiser, on the small team that pulled it together. So I am familiar with the rules of TEDx and have even negotiated the whole “building a TEDx-compatible website” and “booking a room and making it look a bit like a TEDx event” things. The knock on the door turned out to be my “Would you like toRead More →

A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Brian Runciman of the BCS for the Gem of All Mechanisms podcast. We talk about gender, obviously, but also pinkification, tech, robots, male allies and more.

I’ve recently finished reading “What Works: Gender Equality by Design”, a book by Iris Bohnet out on Harvard University Press and it’s one of the best books on gender matters that I’ve read recently. I can seriously recommend it. She takes a clear topic for each chapter and looks at the literature on behaviour change and design around that topic, considering a broad range of evidence from psychology, anthropology, economics and business to craft a wide research base from which to recommend behaviour modification strategies to support equality. The general idea comes from behavioural design, which is the field of “nudge” units and subtle designRead More →

I’ve published lots of writing – articles in journals and conference proceedings, mainly. Also quite a few magazine articles and one poem (aged 14, in the Skateboarding magazine RAD, but that’s a different story). Last week our book came out so now I can say I am a published author. It’s taken a while – over a year in total, with 6 authors collaborating online – but today I got the paper copies and so it feels a bit more real. The book aims to be a handbook and a practical guide – so if you are interested in diversity and more importantly interested inRead More →

A couple of weeks ago I featured on the Suffrage Science podcast. This was my first podcast (yay!). It was put together by Kat Arney, who is a science communicator and general all-round awesome storytelling scientific person. Kat interviewed me remotely then somehow managed to edit the hour of audio down to a shorter 30 minute podcast that even sounded like I was making sense. If the embed has worked, you should be able to listen to the podcast here: or you can find it on Apple/podbean/wherever else you get your pods from. Here’s podbean: I always find the technical side of things quiteRead More →

Since Christmas I’ve read two books by Eugenia Cheng and have hugely enjoyed them both. Cheng is a mathematician, author, concert pianist and writer (and, it would appear, all-round awesome human). The first book was called “How to Bake Pi“, and combined a general introduction to category theory with a bunch of cookery tips and recipes. It was a lot more entertaining than that one-sentence description implies, honest. Upon finishing it I immediately ordered a copy for my brother-in-law, who also likes maths a lot (and cake, but who doesn’t). x+y is billed as “A mathematician’s manifesto for rethinking gender”. I have read a lotRead More →

Usually we organise a couple of socials each term for the women students in our department. These involve meeting up for a coffee or some drinks, and provide an informal way to support women students as it can be a little odd being in a minority. As Wales went into a “firebreak” lockdown, a friend suggested we do some kind of online social to entertain the students. This is a difficult year for everyone in education but I think students must find it particularly hard – it is frustrating being locked down in a house, I can’t imagine being locked down in a student accommodation.Read More →