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CodePlus launches to help fix the gender gap in computer science

28 Apr 2021

CodePlus, which aims to help address the gender imbalance in third-level computer science, is calling on teachers and students to sign up for its 2021 programme.

A nationwide project has been launched in a bid to help overcome the gender imbalance that exists in third-level computer science courses.

The CodePlus programme will be rolled out by Lero, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) software research centre, along with Trinity College Dublin, NUI Galway and University of Limerick over the next two years.

The computer science outreach engagement project has been running at Trinity since 2015, but will now be launched across Ireland. Funded by the SFI Discover programme, its aim is to encourage girls and young women in secondary school to engage with computer science and ICT.

Lero’s education and public engagement manager, Clare McInerney, said the initiative is a “powerful, non-formal outreach project encouraging adolescent girls to explore careers in computer science”.

“Women’s equal and meaningful participation in the digital society is seen as both integral to the realisation of women’s rights in the 21st century, as well as the realisation of a just, inclusive and rights-based information society and to achieve global objectives around gender equality and women’s empowerment by 2030,” she said.

CodePlus is delivered to students as a 20-hour course. In the past five years, it has engaged more than 1,000 pupils.

Trinity College Dublin’s Prof Brendan Tangney, who helped develop the CodePlus programme, said that pupils who take part in the course are more likely to study computer science at third-level.

“It is wonderful to see these young women grow as the course progresses,” he said. “Selection of a computer science course on their CAO application became a real option for them but, more importantly, they felt they would be well able for a computer course.”

According to Dr Cornelia Connolly of NUI Galway’s School of Education, the percentage of all ICT undergraduate degrees awarded to women over the last seven years is “stuck at just 18pc” and “a lowly 20pc” for computer science courses.

“We need teachers and students to sign up for CodePlus,” Connolly added. “Young women are missing out on great careers in computer science, and computer science needs more women designing for and with women, developing and leading the way.”

The organisers have invited any teachers, pupils and schools interested in the CodePlus programme to contact them at info@bridge21.ie.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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