Girls from Portsmouth High School travelled to London yesterday, Tuesday 26 January, to take part in the second Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) Digital Leaders’ Conference.
The event, attended by nearly 200 girls from schools across the GDST network, involved teams competing to devise a campaign to encourage more women to pursue careers in technology.
According to a new report from business advisory firm, Deloitte, in the UK, the percentage of women in digital jobs increased from 17 percent to just 18 percent between 2010 and 2015. In 2013, only 17.1% of the UK’s computer science students were women, down from the previous year.
Supported by industry mentors from companies including the British Red Cross, Big White Wall, Acorn Aspirations and Code Kingdoms, teams produced videos and websites to promote their ideas.
Also speaking at the event was Emma Mulqueeny, CEO of Elbi Digital, founder of Rewired and Young Rewired State and a member of the Government’s Commission on Digital Democracy.
‘Women are still massively under-represented in the technology sector,’ she said.
‘But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Events like the GDST’s Digital Leaders’ Conference encourage girls to think about the opportunities and challenges they will face when they enter the job market. These students are the trailblazers of the future.’
The team from Portsmouth High School which consisted of four senior girls, Jade Cutler, 16, Sophie Bayer, 15, Lowena Hull, 13 and Millie Creak, 11, together with four Year 5 girls, Gabriella Boydell, 10, Olivia Dale, 9, Hadiyh Roostaei,10 and Lydia Rukin, 9, came second in the competition and received a silver trophy. The girls were accompanied by the Headmaster of the Junior School, Mr Paul Marshallsay and the school’s Head of Computer Science, Mr Gary Barrows.
‘The day was a fantastic opportunity to hear so much enthusiasm for computer science not only from the industry mentors but also from the students themselves,’ said Mr Barrows. ‘The girls and staff had the opportunity to try an early release of the BBC Microbit computer system which is expected to be received by all schools in the UK in the next few months. Winning second prize was the icing on the cake after a really good day. I was so pleased with their presentation of their ideas. ‘