Ada Lovelace Day

The 11th October is an important day for me. It’s Ada Lovelace Day.

Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is an international celebration day of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM.

The reason this excites me is that I’ve discovered the tech scene in Manchester is being run by women. You probably didn’t know that. We’re really bad at shouting about all the things we’ve done, and all the great work we’re doing. This is something we need to change. The ladies’ tech scene in Manchester has grown from Manchester Girl Geek Dinners to:

  • Manchester Girl Geeks
  • Liverpool Girl Geeks
  • Ladies of Code
  • SheSays
  • Women In Tech
  • Ladies that UX

Last year when I started technw, I went round to meet the other people in the tech scene and find out what’s going on. The way I see it I’m running and representing the tech community, Katie Gallagher runs Manchester Digital and representing local tech businesses, Rachael Turner runs Madlab and is representing the local community. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Anne Dornan runs Manchester Science Partnership, Natalie Ireland Head of Learning and Public Programmes at the Museum of Science & Industry is the reason HackManchester is part of the Science Festival and at the museum! Since then I’ve met so many more awesome ladies that both impress and astound me professionally and are so lovely I enjoy spending time with them socially, I’d like to introduce you to just some of them in this article (there are LOADS more!). After this I never want to hear anyone complain they can’t find a great female speaker in Manchester. LOOK! You can also meet them tonight at the Manchester Digital #findingada event sponsored by the wonderful Valtech:

Free Tickets include drinks, pizza and sushi.

Claire Foster is my partner in crime at HackManchester. She now runs HackManchester Junior, JamChester and Youth Hacks. We’ve been mates for ages. Through Natalie, I met Marieke Nevin (particle physicist!!!!) who previously ran Manchester Science Festival and is now at Jodrell Bank!

Katie Gallagher @katiegallagher
Katie Gallagher @katiegallagher

Katie Gallagher is my friend and Managing Director of Manchester Digital, the largest digital trade body in the North with over 500 members. I joined Manchester Council a last year after meeting Katie and learning more about the awesome work MD does. She takes a hands on approach with Manchester Digital helps small and large businesses grow and works to give them access to the best talent and tools to do it.

How did you get into this? Because I complained a lot to the then members of the MD Council that the city needed a strong trade body and MD wasn’t delivering so they told me to put my money where my mouth was and join and transform it. Prior to that I had spent time running The Sharp Project and also did a stint in the public sector where it became quickly apparent that they struggled to deliver the services needed by our industry.



Rachael Turner is the CEO of MadLab. I met with Rachael after Madlab’s refurb to try and understand what they were all about. I had been going to events in the space for years and years. After a chat with Rachael I learned they have loads of really great inititatives running, all funded by grants, room hires and a couple of other revenue streams. She invited me to run a couple of digital training courses for unemployed women in Greater Manchester, which I loved and is one of the main reasons I went freelance. I joined the board, and Madlab is now the first (and largest) makerspace in the country. Government innovation agency Nesta describe Madlab as the most active ‘grassroots innovation’ institution in the UK. It’s an arts centre, laboratory, business incubator, education provider, and research organisation.

rachael turner @madlabuk
rachael turner @madlabuk

How did you get into this?

After I graduated, I worked as an investigative TV journalist – for organisations like the BBC and Al Jazeera – for over a decade. It became increasingly clear that whatever the future might be, it would be digital, yet traditional broadcast media just wasn’t set up to keep up with all the changes. It moves too slowly. So I jumped ship! I find it incredibly satisfying being at the ‘cutting edge’ of a number of different fields, it’s really exciting.

What is your proudest achievement?

Keeping it all going. We’ve doubled in size every year since we started.

What one piece of career advice would you give to your 18 year old self?

Learn to code.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Danielle Haugedal-Wilson @mrsdhw

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson is my new boss! She’s an amazing, charismatic and intelligent lady who leads the business architecture & analysis function at CoopDigital. In her spare time she’s running Ladies of Code and finding more ways to get the Coop supporting grass roots events, including the Liverpool Girl Geek’s Acadamy.

How did you get into this?
It was an accident (a happy one) though I’ve loved tech from an early age. I love it because it really does make the world go round and it has the power to do so much good.
What is your proudest achievement?
Getting a request for work experience from a 15 yo as a result of the Ladies Of Code screening of CodeGirl at the Co-op.
What one piece of career advice would you give to your 18 year old self? 
Be brave, don’t try and be perfect, and be myself.
Emer Coleman @emercoleman

Emer Coleman, Technology Engagement Co-Op Digital Founder Disruption Ltd Director TransportAPI Chair of the Open Data Governance Board Ireland. I met Emer when she joined the coop and I was blown away by how switched on she is, in an incredibly short amount of time Emer’s got her finger on all the stuff that’s going on in Manchester and she’s loving her new city.

How did you get into this?
Technology has been a theme in my career in journalism, government and directly of course in the tech sector. I didn’t intend to work in technology I but all my choices led to it. I do it because I love it and because I think there are big societal challenges ahead to do with technology and I want to see technology as force for good for everyone and not a force for harm.

What is your proudest achievement?
Personally: having my son Professionally setting up the London Datastore when working for the Mayor of London, being part of the Government Digital Services Team and helping other women in tech when I can

What one piece of career advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
It doesn’t really matter if you are wrong – it’s your passion that is going to count in the end

Vimla Apadoo @thatgirlvim


Vim’ace. She’s the Programme Manager at Dotforge Impact and Service Designer and Community Manager at FutureEverything. She’s got sick moves to Michael Jackson, runs SheSays Manchester, Manchester Drinkabout, volunteers at HackManchester and probably loads more stuff I’ve forgotten about. We spent a memorable week in Pakistan with Madlab and the British Council and I need to see her more.

How did you get into this?

I studied History and Politics at university, but not because it would get me a job. I wanted to spend three years studying something I enjoyed rather than for a career. So I spent all of my free time figuring out what drives and motivates me and ended up working in digital and tech startups and completely fell in love. I taught myself how to code (but only the basics) and started learning as much as I could about tech and startups. I’ve always known I’m driven by helping people so I put all of those things together and started to sculpt out how I could tick all the boxes that make me happy. I’m now in a position where I help tech4good startups change the world and help tech corporates understand how they can empathise more with the communities who will be using their services.

What’s your proudest achievement?

Being voted a Top 50 Future Leader by Northern Power Women

What advice would you give your 18 year old self?

Don’t worry about your CV, things will work themselves out. Stick to your values and you’ll be okay. If things don’t feel right in your heart, then they’re not right and only you can change it.

Debbie Roycroft @debbieroycrof

Debbie Roycroft is a Senior developer/team leader, also co-organiser of Manchester Java Community. Debbie’s been brilliant at getting involved in technw and has done a great job with Manchester Java Community.

How did you get into this?
I’ve been interested in computers since I was a child, took gcse computer studies and then went on to a combined honours degree in psychology and computer science. I took a job as a tester as a graduate, then ended up training on the job as a developer. I do it because I enjoy the challenge – there’s always something new to learn, and there’s huge satisfaction in seeing something you had a hand in working.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Difficult question! Probably being involved with the Manchester Java Community, being a part of helping to grow it and keep it going.
What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
Have more confidence in yourself, you can do it.

One of my favourite people, Alison Ross is on the Manchester Digital Council with me and she’s a force to be reckoned with, and I

alison ross @ali_r_mcr
alison ross @ali_r_mcr

love meeting her for a glass of wine and putting the world to rights. She’s a lady who gets things done, being the driving force behind Manchester Digital’s latest apprenticeship scheme, running the employer’s forum and probably loads of other stuff. Alison’s day job is as part of the leadership team at Auto Trader, she has a variety of responsibilities; some tech and dev teams, some operational teams and the overall employee experience. Alison ensures that Autotrader are giving back to the tech community and supports the sponsorship of a lot of events, she’s also spearheading some great stuff in the company on diversity. She and Danielle are ladies I hold in absolute professional awe.

How did you get into this?
I dropped out of University and was working in a bar when I met my now husband, This was over 20 years ago and computers and IT were an unknown thing to me. He was a developer and suggested to me after a while that it would be a good career for someone with my sort of brain to persue. To cut a long career short I blagged a job developing Access databases and pretended to work all day and got my husband to help me out in the evening until I knew what I was doing. I ended up on the infrastructure side of things (I love a cable catalogue to this day) and grew into a management role over time.
What’s your proudest achievement?
I’ve thought a bit about this and looking back just isn’t the way my mind works. I’m not especially proud of anything I’ve achieved as yet, my natural assumption is that I can do better, bolder and more useful things in the future. That said, after 15 years at Auto Trader, standing on the balcony of the London Stock Exchange at the moment we went public felt like a big moment. Although that might have been because it was 7:30 in the morning and I was already a bit squiffy. There is a lot of champagne involved.
What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
You don’t need a degree, get an apprenticeship (shameless plug) But mainly, be courageous. No, really courageous, more courageous than that!
Gemma Cameron

Me! I’m running, the community of all the event organisers in the north west. It’s a great role that I started up last year and has given me the opportunity to meet loads of awesome people in Manchester. After years of founding/running HackManchester, Manchester Girl Geek Dinners, Preston Geekup, Barcamp Blackpool and loads of others, I thought it would be great to build a supportive community. I’m also a principal software engineer and tech lead at the Coop with over 10 year’s experience.



As I said – there are LOADS more awesome ladies I’ve neglected to include, like Jenni Wardell (CTO of M14 Industries), Rosie Campbell (technologist at the BBC)… Come along tonight and find out more!!!

Free Tickets TONIGHT include drinks, pizza and sushi.


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