The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) has announced that it is working on a video resource series to help schools encourage women to enter the field of computing, as a follow-up to its History of Computing series.
TNMOC has entered into a partnership with the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) and the East of England Broadband Network (E2BN) to produce and host an online video series designed for classroom use. The educational resource will begin with coverage of the Women in Computing Gallery at the museum, opened in partnership with Google in September last year, and will include an interactive timeline highlighting the role played by women in the creation and evolution of computing.
The series of videos and interactive resources is designed to help combat the image of computing and telecommunications as a career path exclusively for men, something which historically was not the case: during the code-breaking efforts that took place at Bletchley Park in World War II, the computer operators were near-exclusively women; going back still further, Lady Ada Lovelace is generally considered to represent the world's first computer programmer for her work with Charles Babbage on his mechanical computing machines.
Despite a rich history, the gender imbalance in modern computing is plain to see. A report published by E-Skills UK in October 2011 claimed that while women account for 46 per cent of the overall UK labour force, they make up just 17 per cent of IT and telecommunications professionals - a figure that is trending downwards.
'Over the past year fewer than one in twenty of our visiting students have been girls,' explained Chris Monk, learning coordinator at TNMOC. 'However, a recent increase in the number of all-girl schools visiting proves that girls do want to study computing and need encouragement. Our museum will continue to promote the role of women in computing history and we are eager to partner [with] LGfL in producing what we believe will be an inspiring resource.'
The Women in Computing project, to be presented by Kathy Olson from E2BN, is to be filmed over the summer period with a view to launch in 2015. It is projected to include 50 video clips and curriculum support material for Key Stages 2 to 5, and will be available to all schools connected to the National Education Network.