Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

Ada Lovelace Day is an annual event celebrated on the second Tuesday of October to honour the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Named after Ada Lovelace, who is often regarded as the world’s first computer programmer for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical computer, the day aims to highlight and inspire women’s contributions to these fields, encouraging diversity and gender equality in STEM disciplines. It serves as a reminder of the remarkable achievements of women throughout history and the need for continued support and recognition of their accomplishments in these important fields.

In appreciation of this day, we spoke to two women in engineering from Intellias, a global technology partner, to find out about what attracted them to the industry, where the challenges lie, their advice for women at the start of their careers, and what the industry as a whole could do to improve the environment for female engineers.

Tell us about your career backgrounds and how you embarked on a career in engineering?

Liudmyla Suslova, Head of the QA Center of Excellence at Intellias: As a technical translator and administrative manager, I never imagined myself becoming an engineer. However, fate intervened when a manager from my IT department stumbled upon my CV during an internship in a different field. This encounter changed the course of my professional life, and I decided to embrace the opportunity to join the engineering world. 

In an engineering team comprised of talented software engineers, business analysts, and managers, I quickly realised that my passion lay in coding. The more I delved into the world of engineering, the more captivated I became. Through self-education in software development and related fields, such as Java, I expanded my skills and explored roles as a software developer and test automation engineer.

Sofiia Dron, Delivery Director at Intellias: More than 10 years ago, I found myself exploring different career paths, working at a bank, pursuing a Ph.D. in Economic Science, and even engaging in lecturing and media editing with an analytical focus. However, through these experiences, I realised that my true calling was to create products that make a difference and have a lasting impact. This realisation led me to embark on a path in engineering. 

Do you think there is an underrepresentation of women in engineering? If so, why?

Sofiia: I do, and one of the main reasons for this, not just in the UK but also in Ukraine where I reside, lies in the social clichés and stigmas surrounding women’s perceived logical capabilities compared to men. Society often creates false pressure, propagating the belief that men are inherently better at reasoning, problem-solving, and algorithm creation. Working at Intellias, where women hold 43.81% of management positions, in practice I see how unfounded these notions are.

Intellias became the first IT company in Ukraine to sign the Principles of Women’s Empowerment, initiated by the UN and the UN Women. We raise internal awareness and shed light on what engineering truly entails and emphasise the benefits of women taking equal leadership roles in the world’s digital transformation. 

What can be done about this underrepresentation?

Liudmyla: I believe we need more visible female role models to inspire young women and show them that success knows no gender. Limited awareness and encouragement of engineering as a viable career option can be a barrier for women. Insufficient support from parents, educators, and career counsellors may also lead to lower interest and participation in engineering-related activities. Furthermore, mentorship programs can play a vital role in providing those lacking guidance and support, empowering the next generation of female engineers.

What challenges have you faced as members of a male-dominated industry?

Sofiia: Throughout my career, I have faced various challenges and encountered obstacles, as is the case for any individual, regardless of gender. However, one of the most significant hurdles I had to overcome was my own self-limiting beliefs. Once I realised that I could achieve anything with dedication and focus, doors began to open, and I achieved things I had previously thought impossible!

Liudmyla: I agree – throughout my engineering career I have faced various challenges, many of which were self-imposed. Being a perfectionist, I often felt the pressure of not doing enough and constantly pushed myself to learn and grow. While this drive for self-improvement has been beneficial, it also presented obstacles along the way. Overcoming self-doubt and the fear of taking risks required a shift in perspective. Embracing the idea that mistakes and failures are essential for learning helped me develop resilience and navigate challenges effectively. Balancing the pursuit of excellence with recognising my limitations has been crucial for my personal and professional growth. 

What more could organisations do to make the industry more appealing to women?

Sofiia: It is essential for companies to establish detailed Equal Development and Empowerment (EDE) policies and, most importantly, ensure that these policies are respected and implemented. EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity) is one of the key values of Intellias, which is actively implemented at the strategic level and in our daily work. For instance, we have a community IntelliWomen that is a voluntary, women-led resource group, which fosters a diverse and inclusive environment in the company and empowers women. It has 440 active members and unites 70% of women in the company. Creating such a safe and inclusive environment where women can unleash their full potential is crucial. 

What do you enjoy most about your career and the industry?

Sofiia: What I find most captivating about a career in engineering is the constant opportunity for learning. Each day, even in the most routine tasks, there is something new to discover and learn. This perpetual growth prevents stagnation and brings a profound sense of fulfilmentand vitality. 

Liudmyla: The benefits of a career in engineering are abundant. Alongside the incredible industry flexibility, what I love most about my job are the remarkable individuals I have the privilege of working with. Collaborating with experts who share their expertise, passion, and drive has been a constant source of inspiration and motivation. They push me to explore new endeavours and reach greater heights. 

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in engineering?

Liudmyla: To other women wanting to pursue a career in engineering, I would offer the following top tips based on my own experiences. Firstly, finding a mentor experienced in your field can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout your journey. Additionally, practicing and gaining hands-on experience is crucial, even if it means starting with small assignments or contributing to open-source projects. Continuous learning is essential, staying updated with the latest advancements, technologies, and trends through courses, workshops, and online resources. Dedicate time and effort to pursuing your engineering career, as it requires commitment, hard work, and a burning passion for your chosen path. Finally, don’t let setbacks discourage you. Embrace failures as learning opportunities, adapt, and keep moving forward. Success often follows persistence. 

Sofiia: If there’s one piece of advice I would give to aspiring women in engineering, it would be to believe in themselves and their capabilities. The truth is, they can achieve anything they dream of. Self-belief is a powerful tool that can propel us towards success. 

Women in engineering play a pivotal role in shaping our future. By breaking down barriers, fostering belief in oneself, and creating supportive environments, we can empower more women to excel in engineering and contribute to the positive transformation of our world.

Read more about Ada Lovelace Day here and more of our articles here.