A University of Stirling computer scientist is to be recognised as part of an initiative to celebrate women in maths and computing for their achievements and ability to inspire others.
Carron Shankland, Professor of Computing Science, will receive a Suffrage Science award at Bletchley Park, the famous World War Two site where the enigma code was cracked.
Organised by the Medical Research Council, the awards are presented to 12 female scientists and will be held on Ada Lovelace Day: Tuesday, 11 October. This international day recognises women in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Passionate about the promotion of careers in science for women, Professor Shankland successfully led the University to its bronze Athena SWAN institutional award recognising good practice in gender equality in higher education.
She is now working to launch a national network to promote gender equality in Computer Science supported by the BCS, the chartered institute for Information Technology.
Leading by example, Professor Shankland is hopeful that raising the profiles of women in computer science will inspire future generations of girls to get involved: “Hopefully the Suffrage Science awards will allow teachers to use us as exemplars to hold up in classrooms and say ‘Look, here is a woman who is in computing and you could be like her too’.
“To any young women considering a career in computing I say: go for it. Computing is a very exciting discipline, which interacts with almost every part of our lives. You can be a games programmer, a web developer or work with medical sciences to test new drugs. The options are endless.”
Carron’s own research includes creating computational models of biological systems to tackle questions such as ‘how does disease spread?’, and ‘how do cancer cells interact?’
This is the first time the Suffrage Science scheme has awarded to women in maths and computing, having previously celebrated females in the life sciences, engineering and the physical sciences.
Professor Shankland added: “It’s great to give back and help get more women involved in the discipline. At Stirling, we've organised Science Fairs, and a very successful Science Cabaret, under the ScienceGrrl banner, to show that a career in science is creative and exciting and available to everyone.”
The award Professor Shankland will receive is a piece of jewellery, designed by students at the arts college Central Saint Martins-UAL, and inspired by science.
After two years, the 12 winners hand on their jewellery to a recipient of their choice. This scientific “relay” creates an ever-expanding cohort of talented women with a connection, encouraging all to reach senior leadership roles.
Stirling alumna Professor Muffy Calder is among the other award recipients. The former Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government and current Vice-Principal and Head of College of Science & Engineering at the University of Glasgow, joined Stirling in 1976 and went on to graduate with a BSc in Computing Science.