Women into Computing section for Edinburgh Napier

I spent the last few months of 2017 working on a Women into Computing section for the Edinburgh Napier website.

The aim of the project was to promote Computing as an option for those either choosing their subjects when leaving school or considering a career change. As such, the Women into Computing section is aimed at both undergraduate and postgraduate markets.

Background of the Women into Computing project

This project tied in with a wider, government-led initiative to encourage women into STEM subjects, namely:

  • Science
  • Technology
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics

The School has an ambitious target of achieving a 50/50 gender split of their students in the next few years. Their effort to encourage women into Computing has been recognised with an Athena SWAN bronze departmental award (complementing the award the wider University also won).

The School of Computing hosts two organisations encouraging women into Computing:

Each of these groups provide an opportunity for women to meet, network and discuss their work in this area.

Project tasks

There were two main project tasks:

  • reviewing content that already existed on the website
  • planning and developing new, engaging content where there were noticeable gaps.

Existing content

I looked at content already in the School of Computing section of the site and found a range of case studies of students past and present. The majority of these were based around other topics, such as placements, and none focused too much on women’s experience in the field.

I also looked through news stories and past events associated with the School of Computing. I quickly found one related to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s visit to meet the “girl geeks”, the group of female staff and students mentioned above.

The University also runs an annual Ada Lovelace lecture which ties in with Ada Lovelace Day, an event that aims to raise the profile of women in STEM subjects.  I included a link to the most recent one.

Developing new content

I met with the Dean of Computing, Sally Smith, to discuss developing some video case studies. A list of female staff in the School was compiled and she helped flag those who would make good testimonials to start with.

Three interviews were conducted during the project:

  • Marwa Salayma – a PhD student from Palestine researching wireless networks
  • Laura Muir – a Professor who switched from the field of Biology later on in her career
  • Sally Smith herself – Dean of the School of Computing who was previously involved in the early development of GPS technology (I felt it important to emphasise that the head of the School at the University was a woman).

I had hoped to conduct interviews with Hazel Hall, Emma Hart and Debbie Meharg (with whom I worked closely on the Graduate Apprenticeships project) but time did not allow.

Setting up the Women into Computing section

I decided to house the content in the Computing Browse interests section of the site (now replaced with a Study area). This was due to that section receiving much more web traffic than the School site.

Promoting the Women into Computing section

The section is promoted using a module on both the Computing Browse interests section and on the School landing page.

Women into Computing featured spotlight
Women into Computing featured spotlight

I shared the content produced in blogs and on social media. Other academics in the School also shared the content, with Hazel Hall writing a blog post about Marwa’s video.

Performance of content

The new section has been viewed 149 times, making it the third most popular page in the Computing Browse interest area. The videos on YouTube have also performed reasonably well:

  • Marwa Salayma: 891 views
  • Sally Smith: 159 views
  • Laura Muir: 90 views

Conclusion

I enjoyed working on this project as it was good to get some creative work and video production to do. It was also good to work with the School of Computing for a few months, having graduated from it in 2006.

While my time working on the Women into Computing section has come to an end, I hope there’s more to come for it as there are many more stories to tell.

Work with me

If you’d like help with developing a website or video, please get in touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.