Societal Engagement Seed Fund Supports Junior Hackathon for Girls

To inspire more young women with engineering and mathematical sciences, Imperial Computing and Mathematics Departments are working together to create a one-day hackathon for girls. The project was one of four to be successfully funded by Imperial College London’s Societal Engagement Seed Fund, and will target school-aged girls between the ages of 7 and 10 years old. The project aims to build confidence and self-esteem in maths and computing and remove negative stereotypes before they have had chance to fully form.

Despite the inclusion of computing as a foundation subject in the national curriculum since 2014, girls are still not engaging with computer science beyond Key Stage 3 at the same level as their male peers. Socially entrenched stereotypes of what girls can achieve and who they can become in their futures is thought to be the main reason girls are less likely to choose core STEM subjects. These stereotypes are typically fully formed by age 11.

‘Hello World Hack’ (working title) will take place on Tuesday 24 March 2020 at the College’s South Kensington Campus and will include a range of hands-on coding, programming and maths-based problem-solving activities. Each activity will be led by computer scientists and mathematicians who identify as women, exposing young girls to positive female role models in these subject areas.

Imperial Computing are delighted to announce that we are now in the process of inviting schools to participate. A total of ten schools will be invited to take part, each bringing with them approximately 15 students formed of teams from Years 3, 4 and 5.

 

Undergraduate mathematics student and 2019 winner of the Women of the Future Young Star Award, Vanessa Madu, is excited to be co-leading the event: “For a lot of girls this will be their first time coding, their ‘Hello World’ moment, and so providing a fun event that introduces them to key maths and computing concepts is essential in creating a lasting impression all the way up to when they make key decisions about their futures.”

Dr Jackie Bell, co-leading the event from the Department of Computing, adds: “Women make up only 16% of the UK’s technology workforce and only 10% of the UK’s engineering workforce. One big problem for the engagement of women in these areas is lack of exposure. Girls typically aren’t exposed to coding, programming or more widely engineering until much later in their adolescent lives, and this is not helped by societal stereotypes about the roles of women. We are delighted to have received seed funding to host this event and we hope it will break down preconceptions and show girls that positive female role models in mathematics, computing and engineering exist.”

The project aims to:

  • Introduce computer science to children, particularly girls, at a young age.
  • Show school students the variety of things they can achieve by learning to code and the range of career options open to them within both maths and computer science.
  • Encourage more young women to pursue STEM subjects and ultimately STEM careers.
  • Build and develop relationships and collaborations with local schools (particularly those who are underperforming, have high proportions of students entitled to free school meals or have very little or no computing provision).
  • Showcase Imperial College London as not only a place of high-calibre research and innovation but also a place that is accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds.

To register your interest please email Dr Jackie Bell (Jaclyn.bell@imperial.ac.uk) by 5pm on Monday 2 March 2020. Schools with a high proportion of students entitled to free school meals or with very little or no computing provision are strongly encouraged to apply.