Aligning with the fifth agenda of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), academic institutions worldwide are increasingly recognising the importance of achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls through education. Among these institutions, Northumbria University London has under taken substantial initiatives, both strategically and financially, to integrate the SDGs into its curriculum and support various activities and projects beyond the university’s walls. Their efforts aim to ensure that the university’s objectives for 2030 are met, and that gender equality becomes a central pillar of their mission.
The tech industry, like many other sectors, faces a significant gender imbalance, and addressing this disparity is crucial to fostering a more inclusive and innovative future. According to the British Computer Society (2022), only 17% of women work in the tech sector in the UK, and this percentage dwindles to a meagre 0.7% when considering women from Black, African, Caribbean, or Black British backgrounds. Additionally, women from BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) backgrounds are less likely to hold leadership roles in the tech industry, further highlighting the importance of targeted interventions to break down barriers and promote diversity.
To tackle this issue head-on, Northumbria University London has embarked on an ambitious mission to empower girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially those from BAME communities, with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the tech industry. One of their recent initiatives involved collaborating with Mulberry School for Girls, a local institution known for its commitment to empowering young women through education.
In a weekend event held on the 15th and 16th, Northumbria University London organised a free tech boot camp specifically designed for 26 female students between the ages of 16 and 19 from Mulberry School. The camp’s primary focus was to enhance their programming skills and provide an immersive learning experience in the world of technology. During this two-day event, the girls were introduced to the power of coding and cyber security, two essential components of the tech landscape.
Python, a versatile and widely used programming language, served as the primary tool for the boot camp. Python’s popularity has surged over the past decade due to its straightforward syntax and ease of code development and maintenance. Its versatility makes it an elemental language across various industries, making it an ideal choice for these aspiring young programmers.
Throughout the boot camp, the students dived into the world of Python, creating simple applications and even developing video games. The hands-on experience not only strengthened their programming skills but also ignited their passion for technology. By providing girls with the opportunity to explore and experiment with technology, Northumbria University London aimed to break down the barriers that have historically limited women’s representation in the tech sector.
By actively engaging girls from Mulberry School in such activities, Northumbria University demonstrates its commitment to promoting diversity and gender equality in the tech industry. By targeting underrepresented communities and nurturing their interest in technology from an early age, the university is sowing the seeds for a more equitable future.