Schoolgirls '˜break down stereotypes' and aspire to become technology leaders of the future

Primary youngsters joined a university event aimed at inspiring the female technology leaders of the future.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 21 January, 2019, 05:00
Durham Univsity helping to educate the tech experts of the future.

More than 40 girls, aged nine and ten from nine East Durham schools, took part in the STEMettes Hack Durham event at Durham University.

Staff and students from the University’s Department of Computer Science teamed up with STEMettes, a social enterprise working to inspire young women into STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths subjects, Atom bank, the Durham-based digital bank, and Business Durham, to deliver the full-day event.

The schools which took part are all members of the Peterlee Teaching School Alliance who work closely with Durham University to develop and advance STEM learning.

They included girls from Wheatley Hill Primary, Blackhall Primary, Our Lady of Lourdes RC, Our Lady of the Rosary RC, St William’s RC, Howletch Lane, Wingate Primary, St Joseph’s RC and Hutton Henry CofE Primary.

Young delegates were introduced to website-building tools and supported to develop their own site, celebrating inspiring women in STEM.

Each team presented their work to expert judges, who awarded prizes for their coding skills, creativity and team working.

East Durham girls take part in Durham University event.

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Laura MacDonald, a teacher at St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Blackhall, said: “For our children to mix and really work together was great. They were doing something they don’t have very much opportunity to do.

“They were experiencing what the world has to offer and what possibilities there are for women and for them in the future. It’s breaking down stereotypes on what they can achieve.”

The expert panel included Professor Sue Black, a computer scientist and social entrepreneur who founded BCSWomen, the UK’s first online network for women in tech, and #techmums, a social enterprise which empowers mums and their families through technology and Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, who, having become at aged 11 the youngest girl ever to pass A-Level computing, has gone on to work for Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard and Deutsche Bank, and is the co-founder of STEMettes.

Professor Black said: “What an inspiring day. Seeing so many girls getting excited about coding, building websites and at the same time learning about amazing STEM role models was an absolute joy.”

Primary pupil concentrating hard.

Dr Lorraine Coghill, Ogden Science Outreach Coordinator at Durham University, said: “The way the girls threw themselves into the event was fantastic and the websites they produced in just a few hours were very impressive.

“We’re committed to supporting STEM development in partnership with our local schools and we hope this event will have played some part in inspiring the female technology leaders of the future.”

Durham University hosts technology event for East Durham students.