Four Irish girls contend for European Digital Girl of the Year titles

16 Nov 2017

Image: Rawpixel/Shutterstock

All Irish girls nominated are members of CoderDojo, which attests to the impact the organisation has had.

Four Irish girls are in the running for the various European categories of the Ada Awards’ Digital Girl of the Year.

Zara Ilyas, Ruby Scott Kenny, Aoibheann Mangan and Maeve Galvin have all been shortlisted for the awards, which recognise the top girls and women in tech worldwide.

The fact that so many girls listed this year are CoderDojo members is a major endorsement for the organisation, which was born in Ireland six years ago.

Also, the fact that there are so many Irish girls nominated echoes the tradition established by Lauren Boyle and Niamh Scanlon, both previous winners of European Digital Girl of the Year.

Boyle was given the accolade in 2014 when she was nine and Scanlon took the baton in 2015 when she was 13.

Passionate about digital

Both Ilyas and Scott Kenny will compete in the under-10s category. With a passion for tech and learning, Ilyas joined CoderDojo in the very beginning and has attended every robotics session. Her friend Scott Kenny is also a participant at the CoderDojo events and has a similar love for technology.

They will be competing against Helen Staple from the UK, also a devoted CoderDojo attendee, who has surprised older members with the power of her Scratch coding skills.

Competing in the 11-14-year-old category is Aoibheann Mangan, a mentor with Cloghans Hill and Robeen CoderDojo. Mangan is a passionate campaigner for promoting coding among girls, including devising various girls-only workshops. She is also an ardent advocate for more rural broadband, highlighting how unfair it is for young people growing up without the vital service.

Competing against Mangan is Charlotte Johnson from Scotland, who was named one of three coding rising stars in the UK for 2017. She is also a CoderDojo member and attended Coolest Projects 2017.

Competing in the 15-17-year-old category is Maeve Galvin, who won her age category in the Tech Week Ireland Scratch competition three years running, and who gives up her free time every weekend to teach Scratch at her local CoderDojo.

Ireland also has a start-up shortlisted in the Digital Impact Organisation of the Year category. Teen-Turn is an initiative that began last year, which places girls in second-level education from disadvantaged areas into two-week summer technology internships with companies located close to them.

This initiative sets out to address the low numbers of women within the tech sector by exposing students to the careers that could be available to them. This in turn would help to narrow the ongoing skills gap by introducing future talent that might not have considered a career in tech.

The finalists named for the 2017 European Digital Women of the Year category are: Cat Lamin from the UK, Pascale Van Damme from Belgium and Egle Ciuoderiene from Lithuania.

The 2017 European Ada Award winners will be announced at the fifth annual European Ada Awards Ceremony on 30 November at BeCentral, Cantersteen, in Brussels, ahead of the celebration of the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Ada Lovelace.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years