Apply by 30th June for the Catalyst Grant that has helped create digital tools to empower women working in STEM – Laura Wheeler, Head of Digital Communications at Digital Science


Laura Wheeler is Head of Digital Communications at Digital Science, an organisation that uses technology to help solve problems for researchers, institutions, publishers and funders. Having studied biochemistry, Laura has worked at the BBC as a science TV researcher and at Nature Publishing Group in their Communities team where for several years she was involved in growing Nature’s social media and blogging endeavours. Laura is a Huffington Post Blogger and social media expert.

Laura Wheeler - Digital Science

Laura Wheeler

“…Grants of up to £25,000 or $30,000 are offered to help take ideas from concept to prototype! Digital Science looks for original, early stage software ideas that help benefit scientific research…”

Prepare to be shocked

With International Women in Engineering Day just over a week away, this is a useful time to reflect on the current status quo. I warn you, some of these stats are shocking:

Did you know:

  • Since 2012, the proportion of young women studying engineering and physics has remained virtually static.
  • 9% of the engineering workforce is female and only 6% of registered engineers and technicians are women.
  • 64% of engineering employers say a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business.

You can read more stats just like this in the WES Statistics document.

Changing the statistics

But what initiatives are out there to practically help change these dire statistics? There are lots of events and initiatives occurring during International Women in Engineering Day, co-ordinated by the Women’s Engineering Society (see the impact of the day in 2016 here), but I wanted to point out other initiatives that are also making change – and the first that springs to mind is Ada Lovelace Day (ALD).

You may already be aware that Ada Lovelace Day is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Celebrations usually take place across the globe in October, with an aim to increase the profile of women in engineering and science roles. Ada Lovelace Day wants to create new role models who will encourage more girls into future careers.

Digital Science Catalyst-Grant-logoIn 2015, the technology company I work for Digital Science, announced our latest ‘Catalyst Grant’ award, delivered to the team at Ada Lovelace Day to help reach its next milestones: to help advance women’s achievements in STEM subjects. Over the last two years, using this grant money wisely, the Ada Lovelace Day team have since expanded the resources section on their website to provide a global database of information so women can develop their careers. It’s now in beta, do take a look!

The database provides easy access to essential information for women in engineering and other sciences, including details of professional and grassroots organisations, funding opportunities. The founder of Ada Lovelace Day, Suw Charman-Anderson, had to say:

“This resources section will help women at all stages of their career to find the support, funding and inspiration they need, and help businesses understand more clearly the challenges that women face in STEM.”

Ada Lovelace Day was a perfect recipient for the Catalyst Grant, an altruistic endeavour from Digital Science that helps to nurture innovative ideas for STEM software.

What would YOU do with a grant?

Do you have any ideas that would be suitable for a grant? Then you should consider applying!

Grants of up to £25,000 or $30,000 are offered to help take ideas from concept to prototype! Digital Science looks for original, early stage software ideas that help benefit scientific research. Your idea can build on existing technologies, rather than trying to replace or reinvent existing ones, or it can be something completely new and revolutionary.

You can find out more about the grant here.
It seems fitting in the approach to International Women in Engineering Day that we share information on tangible opportunities that can really help women – just like Ada Lovelace Day founder, Suw Charman-Anderson, achieve their goals.

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