University's mentoring scheme for women in computing secures £10,000 funding
Published Tuesday 22nd March 2011
A major project to support and mentor young women studying for a first degree or Masters in Computing has been launched by The University of Northampton, thanks to a successful funding bid.
The six-month-long project, jointly run by Rashmi Dravid, Senior Lecturer, Computing, School of Science and Technology and Catherine Klimes, Head of Careers and Employability, will see female students undertaking Computing degrees at the University being mentored by professional women already working in the sector. They will be taking part in seminars, conferences and workshops as part of the project, supported by some of the leading organisations in the computing sector - Microsoft, Dell Systems, British Computer Society (BCS), the Chartered Institute of IT and independent IT consultants.
The University's Computing female undergraduates will speak to girls aged 12-13 in Northamptonshire secondary schools to help them think about their GCSE choices and options. Included in the programme is a Microsoft-led event - DigiGirlz Day - to provide high school girls with opportunities to learn about careers in technology, talk with Microsoft employees, and enjoy hands-on computer and technology workshops along with other careers events and workshops, to be finished off with a visit to Microsoft Headquarters at Thames Valley Park in Reading. The aim of all these activities is to raise the career aspirations of the girls and encourage them to consider computing as a life-long career.
Rashmi Dravid, Senior Lecturer, Computing, School of Science and Technology, The University of Northampton, said:
"Girls are motivated and inspired to support and mentor younger girls by supporting career days and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based events at the University and secondary schools."
The funding for the project has been secured through the University's Department for Enhanced Learning, Teaching, Achievement and Employability (DeltaE).
This project aims to transform the girls into emerging professionals who are able to compete in the graduate labour market, securing jobs in the sector and, in turn, helping those school-aged pupils who will follow them into study and careers in computing.Catherine Klime, Head of Careers and Employability, The University of Northampton
This is part of our continued commitment to contribute towards addressing the gender imbalance in science and technology. In 2010, only 18% of IT and Telecom professionals in the UK were female, at a time when the IT skills shortage is predicted to increase significantly over the next 5 - 10 years.
Gender imbalance is prevalent across Computing courses too. According to a recent survey by e-Skills, 15% of applicants to Computing degree courses are female and the proportion of females taking Computing A-Level remains low at 9%.These kind of projects will encourage a greater female contribution to the much needed vibrant, well-skilled IT professionals community.Professor Kamal Bechkoum, Dean of the School of Science and Technology
Computing undergraduates presented a paper during the University's Employability Week Conference, ran workshops for Year 12 girls, organised by Connexions, Northampton, at Northampton Girls School to celebrate International Women's Day on 8 March, and hold invitations to present at both industry and higher education sector led conferences between now and July 2011.