Girls allowed

According to Belinda Parmar in Little Miss Geek:

  • Women make up 49% of the UK labour force but account for just 17% of the technology workforce (a decrease from 22% in 2003)
  • Only 4% of all games developers are female


  • 40% of all technology products are bought by women, and this is rising.
  • Women are playing 55% of all casual games.

The statistics on the engagement of women in the technology industry are woeful. And this is a serious problem on a national scale - computing and engineering have much to offer women in terms of creative and fulfilling careers that have a significant impact on the lives of people - in everything from marketing and recreation to science and medicine. And technology companies need women too: technology companies with women on management teams have a 34% higher return on investment

Girls are not pursuing education in computing in a way that allows them to consider jobs in technology (or even jobs that use technology in a sophisticated way, a much broader set). They all too frequently make a decision to drop computing very early in their school careers, partly on the basis of misinformation and partly because the ICT curriculum has been very dull. Hopefully, this will change with the introduction of the new computing curriculum.

There is a massive misapprehension about what computing actually involves - that affects boys as well as girls. Computing is a very broad discipline. In this department - and remember this is a Computer Science department dedicated to all things to do with computers - there are women at all levels of seniority, who are working on (amongst other things): life-enhancing uses of technologies; how to protect the nation; imaging the brain; analysing data about urban life; tiger numbers; the way that vision works; ensuing that programs do what they are supposed to do; including emotion in the design of computer systems; and many others. Check out our people pages here.

Much of our research uses computers as a tool to do interesting things that involve people (and other animals) in some way - it is, perhaps surprisingly, a very long way from the stereotype of nerdy boy with poor social skills and doubtful personal hygiene sitting alone in a darkened bedroom writing code for fun.

Outside of the department of Computer Science there are even more women in science (and the arts) who use programming on a daily basis. Technology pervades scientific study; we use it to collect and to analyse data in fields from biology and chemistry to physics, medicine, psychology, anthropology, zoology,.... A good grounding in the study of computer science is useful in the study of other sciences, and an essential skill in research or in jobs across a very wide range of subjects. Just because you do not want to go into computing as a career does not mean that a good level of computing will not help in the career you have chosen - every bit as much as English or maths.

And here is the crux - you can do it and you can enjoy it. Sue Black, who is a Senior Research Associate in the department has written an inspirational blog post - if I can do it, so can you.

The Engduino is intended to allow the study of principles of computing using a device that can, with imagination, creativity and some application, be turned into a variety of real products. This is what we do in our research lives and so we think that it is an exciting way of exploring the world - the technology is a means to an end, not really an end in its own right. To program so as to be able to make a product that might improve someone's levels of fitness, that might keep someone safe, or that might contribute to a study of energy use is fundamentally more interesting than text on a screen.

Computing is too important to be left to men [Karen Sparck-Jones]