Girls put off computing by nerdy, geeky image, says Google global prize winner
Clare McInerney, education and outreach manager at Lero

Girls put off computing by nerdy, geeky image, says Google global prize winner

5 Feb 2015

Irish software research centre Lero has won a global prize from Google for its innovative approach to teaching girls from 14 years of age how to code.

Lero says it will be using the €17,000 award it won as part of the 2015 RISE Awards to organise more computing summer camps at the University of Limerick aimed specifically at female secondary students.

Internet search giant Google’s RISE programme, which began in 2010, is designed to support organisations that encourage girls and underrepresented students in extracurricular computer science programmes. This year, Google will contribute US$1.5m to 37 organisations in 17 countries.

“As a society, we must encourage more girls to take up computing,” said Clare McInerney, education and outreach manager at Lero. “Many girls are put off computing from an early age because of its nerdy, geeky image.

“We aim to show girls that much of computing is about problem solving and collaborative thinking and that computing can be applied in diverse and varied domains.”

Learning from Scratch

Lero has also played a key role in encouraging primary school kids to learn about computing through its Scratch programme.

Lero also led the development of a schools course in computing which is due to be introduced to the Junior Cycle curriculum.

McInerney said the gender proportion in most IT undergraduate courses in Ireland is overwhelmingly male.

“This is not in the interests of female careers or Ireland Inc at a time there is huge demand for IT skills. We are very appreciative to Google for this award.”

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

Inspire 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-19 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Buy your early bird tickets now

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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