The purpose of the Ada Lovelace Project is to motivate girls and young women to study and take up careers in the so-called MINT subjects, i.e. in mathematics, computer sciences, natural sciences, and technology.
The project is named after Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852), who exhibited considerable talent and courage by writing early proto-computer programs over 150 years ago, at a time when universities and places of higher learning and their libraries were closed to women.
More than 53% of all German high school graduates and 50% of all freshmen at German universities are now female. However, relatively few women choose to study a subject in the field of mathematics, computer sciences, natural sciences, or technology. Women are thus not only failing to use the opportunity to ensure that new technologies are developed and designed with their own needs in mind, but they are also not taking the chances available to them of working in attractive science-based and technology-related careers.
The basic approach of the Ada Lovelace Project is to provide role models in order to motive its target group: Female MINT students provide information, counseling and support to girls of school age. They visit schools, organize project days at the university, and act as role models for small groups of school-age girls interested in the sciences. These mentors inform about various options for studying and about their own experiences and progress. The mentors also collaborate with their groups in workshops and work collectives on specific technical and scientific projects with the aim of promoting the girls' self-confidence when it comes to working in the various scientific fields. Because there is relatively little difference in age between the mentors and their protégés, the latter can readily identify with their role model so that the girls and young women are inspired to consider a career in the scientific and technological fields for themselves.
In recent years, the work of the Ada Lovelace Project has been the subject of several evaluation surveys. These have repeatedly provided important stimuli and input for the further development of the project and for its quality assurance.